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AstraZeneca deepens cancer cell therapy portfolio with $320M Neogene buyout

Published: Nov 29, 2022

By Tristan Manalac

BioSpace

AstraZeneca and Neogene Therapeutics have entered into a definitive acquisition agreement in which AstraZeneca will buy all outstanding equity in the smaller company for $320 million.

The deal aims to advance T-cell receptor therapies against solid tumors, California-based Neogene announced Tuesday.

AstraZeneca will make an upfront initial payment of $200 million once the buyout is closed. The remaining $120 million will be paid according to certain milestones, as well as other contingent and non-contingent considerations.

Once the acquisition is completed, Neogene will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca, with footprints in Amsterdam and Santa Monica, California. The companies expect the deal to close early next year.

Unlike most cellular approaches to cancer, which prime the immune system against a surface target, T-cell receptor therapies can hone in on targets inside tumor cells, including genetic mutations that can drive oncogenesis. 

Neogene uses a proprietary T-cell receptor discovery and cell engineering platform that detects these intracellular targets to produce highly specific T-cell receptor therapeutics. The entire process is based on the patient’s tumor biopsy, allowing for a fully individualized treatment approach.

In a statement, Susan Galbraith, executive vice president of oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, said the Neogene buyout will bring “innovative science and leading experts in T-cell receptor biology” into the company’s fold.

Oncology Onslaught

Tuesday’s Neogene acquisition marks the latest development in AstraZeneca’s offensive against solid tumors.

Most recently, the British pharma claimed a victory against non-small cell lung cancer when the FDA approved its Imfinzi (durvalumab)/Imjudo (tremelimumab) combo with platinum-based chemotherapy for patients with metastatic disease. 

A few weeks earlier, the same drug combo was greenlit for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

In late October, AstraZeneca also scored two wins against breast cancer. Data from a Phase III trial indicated that capivasertib, when used with Faslodex (fulvestrant), can boost survival in two different types of the disease. 

This year has also seen increased investments from AstraZeneca aimed at deepening its oncology pipeline. In April, the company inked a $25 million deal with Harbour Biomed for an exclusive global right to develop, manufacture and commercialize HBM7022, a bispecific antibody for oncology targets. 

Three months later, in July, the company dropped $1.27 billion to acquire TeneoTwo. In the process, AstraZeneca gained access to TNB-486, a CD19/CD3 T-cell engager being tested on relapsed and refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

AstraZeneca opened 2022 with a $1.5 billion agreement with Scorpion Therapeutics to develop up to three precision small molecule drugs against hard-to-treat cancer proteins.

Source: BioSpace