Astellas Pharma acquires US biotech company Xyphos Biosciences

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Astellas acquisition of Xyphos : Japanese pharma company Astellas Pharma has acquired US biotech company Xyphos Biosciences in a deal worth up to $665 million as per the latest pharma acquisition news.

The acquisition of Xyphos Biosciences gives Astellas Pharma access to the former’s ACCEL technology platform alongside its immuno-oncology talent to develop new and possibly better methods to mobilize, target and control immune cells to find, modulate and destroy targeted cells in the body.

ACCEL expands to advanced cellular control through engineered ligands.

As per the terms of Astellas acquisition of Xyphos, the latter was paid $120 million upon closing of the deal and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company. Apart from that, the US biotech company will be eligible for potential future development milestone payments, which takes the total value of the transaction at $665 million.

Commenting on Astellas acquisition of Xyphos, Kenji Yasukawa – President and CEO of Astellas Pharma said: “At Astellas, immuno-oncology is a Primary Focus of our research and development strategy, and we are working on the development of next-generation cancer immuno-therapy using new modalities/technologies.

“The innovative technology in development at Xyphos fits perfectly in advancing our immuno-oncology strategy to create and deliver value for patients. Combining this technology with our capabilities in cell therapy that we have been working on so far, we can create next-generation high-function cells and maximize the value of our technology.”

Astellas acquisition of Xyphos

Astellas acquisition of Xyphos. Photo courtesy of Vysotsky/

Xyphos’ ACCEL technology platform is said to have the ability to direct cells of the immune system to target single or multiple tumor antigens while regulating the immune cell proliferation and endurance. Molecules developed through the synthetic biology platform can be pushed into natural immune cells or to engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) cells to produce immunotherapies for oncology, said Astellas Pharma.

Xyphos’ CAR technology is said to be based on an engineered modification to a natural human receptor called NKG2D, which exists on natural killer (NK) cells and certain T-cells. The designed alteration of NKG2D makes it inert so that it cannot bind to any of its natural ligands, which are found on stressed cells.

The first convertible CAR-T cell product candidate of the US biotech company is in preclinical development and is slated to enter into its first human clinical trial in 2021.

James Knighton – CEO of Xyphos, commenting on Astellas acquisition of Xyphos, said: “At Xyphos, we are driven to advance our innovative cell therapy technology platform as an exciting new approach to potentially manage and cure cancer.

“Astellas’ commitment to immuno-oncology makes them an ideal partner to advance our proprietary NKG2D-based NK-cell and T-cell platform to the next stage of clinical exploration. Further, we look forward to becoming part of Astellas to accelerate this immuno-oncology research and development in the vibrant South San Francisco community.”

Astellas acquisition of Xyphos marks the second deal for the Japanese pharma company in December 2019 after its $3 billion worth transaction to buy US gene therapy company Audentes Therapeutics (Read more at Astellas acquisition of Audentes).

The Japanese pharma company had another milestone this month in the form of Padcev FDA approval for advanced urothelial cancer. Padcev (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv), a Nectin-4-directed antibody and microtubule inhibitor conjugate, was jointly developed by Astellas and Seattle Genetics.

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