AstraZeneca announced today that it would be paying up to $320 million to acquire Neogene Therapeutics, a global biotech focusing on discovering, developing and manufacturing personalized T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-Ts) for cancer.
Neogene was founded in 2018 by two cell therapy researchers, Ton Schumacher and Carsten Linnemann, with the hopes of using their proprietary neoantigen T-cell receptor discovery and T-cell engineering platform to identify TCR genes with specificity for neoantigens.
Neoantigens are found exclusively on cancer cells as a result of tumor-associated mutations, which serve as unique targets for every tumor. Neogene has focused on advancing its pipeline of both fully individualized TCR therapies and therapies targeting shared neoantigens such as mutated TP53 or KRAS. TCR-Ts differ from current cancer cell therapy approaches in that they’re able to recognize intracellular targets and not just proteins expressed on the surface of cancer cells.
For AstraZeneca, the deal helps build the drugmaker's cell therapy portfolio, with the end goal of engineering next-generation off-the-shelf, patient-ready cell therapies.
Neogene will continue to operate as a wholly subsidiary of AstraZeneca, which will be paying an initial sum of $200 million on deal closing and $120 million in both contingent milestones-based and non-contingent consideration.
The recent merger agreement is only the latest in a string of acquisitions announced by AstraZeneca this year. Just last month, AstraZeneca’s Alexion revealed that it would acquire rare disease drugmaker LogicBio Therapeutics in a $68 million deal. Back in July, the British-Swedish multinational announced a purchase worth up to $1.27 billion, acquiring blood cancer biotech TeneoTwo.