Astellas Procures Xyphos Biosciences as Second Acquisition in December
By Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.
Astellas Pharma Inc., the second-largest pharmaceutical company in Japan, acquired the American gene therapy development company Audentes Therapeutics for $3 billion in early December 2019. At the end of December, it announced the acquisition of Xyphos Biosciences in South San Francisco to accelerate the next generation of cancer immunotherapy products. Xyphos will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas with a total acquisition value of $665 million.
With this acquisition, Astellas will get Xyphos’ new ACCEL (Advanced Cellular Control through engineered Ligands) technology platform, which can guide the cells of the immune system to target single or multiple tumor antigens, while controlling the proliferation and persistence of immune cells. Xyphos’ proprietary molecules can be delivered to natural immune cells or to engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) cells to generate immunotherapies for oncology. Xyphos’ first CAR-T cell candidate is currently undergoing preclinical development, with the first clinical trial planned for 2021.
Astellas’ two acquisitions at the end of 2019 merged two San Francisco biotech companies for a total of US $5.2 billion to strengthen its product development in cancer immunotherapy and gene therapy. The two acquisitions not only boosted the share price of US-related gene therapy and cancer immunotherapy companies but also increased the activity of mergers and acquisitions of biotech companies in San Francisco. It kicked off the upcoming J.P. Morgan 38th Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
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