The deal gives the UK headquartered pharma company access to next-generation T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-Ts) with promising potential for targeting solid tumours.
Neogene Therapeutics, which is based in Amsterdam in the EU, and in Santa Monica, in the US, is advancing a pipeline of fully individualized TCR-Ts as well as those targeting shared neoantigens.
Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will acquire all outstanding equity of Neogene for a total consideration of up to $320m, on a cash and debt free basis. This will include an initial payment of $200m on deal closing, and a further up to $120m in both contingent milestones-based and non-contingent consideration.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances, with Neogene then set to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca.
The deal will not impact AstraZeneca’s financial guidance for 2022.
Unlocking new ways of tackling cancer
Most current cell therapy approaches in oncology focus on modifying the immune system’s T cells to recognise proteins expressed on the surface of cancer cells.
In contrast, TCR-Ts can recognise intracellular targets, including cancer-specific mutations, thereby potentially unlocking targets previously inaccessible using cell therapies, noted AstraZeneca.
“This acquisition represents a unique opportunity to bring innovative science and leading experts in T-cell receptor biology and cell therapy manufacturing together with our internal oncology cell therapy team, unlocking new ways to target cancer.
“Neogene’s leading TCR discovery capabilities and extensive manufacturing experience complement the cell therapy capability we have built over the last three years and allow us to accelerate the development of potentially curative cell therapies for the benefit of patients,” said Susan Galbraith, executive vice president, oncology R&D, AstraZeneca.
Neogene was founded by Carsten Linnemann, who is currently its CEO, along with Ton Schumacher, principal investigator at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and cell therapy industry veteran, Arie Belldegrun, founder of Kite Pharma, and co-founder and executive chairman of Allogene Therapeutics. It has seen key investments from Vida Ventures, TPG, EcoR1 Capital, Jeito Capital, Syncona, Polaris Partners and Pontifax.
Commenting on the deal, Linnemann said: “Our expertise, clinical portfolio and platform technologies in this area combined with AstraZeneca’s leadership in oncology and global footprint mean we are well-positioned to translate pioneering science into novel treatments for hard-to-treat cancers.”
Blood cancer deal
AstraZeneca was on the asset trail in relation to its oncology business in July this year, with it snapping up US-based blood cancer specialist, TeneoTwo, in a deal worth around US$1.27bn.
TeneoTwo is developing an experimental therapy, TNB-486, part of a class of therapeutic antibodies known as T-cell engagers, and AstraZeneca said it wanted to accelerate the development of that potential new medicine for B-cell hematologic malignancies, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.