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Astellas Acquires Xyphos to Boost Immuno-oncology Pipeline

Zacks Equity Research

Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc. ALPMY announced that it has acquired privately-held, development-stage biotechnology company Xyphos Biosciences, Inc to boost its immuno-oncology pipeline.

The total transaction value of this acquisition is $665 million. Astellas paid $120 million upon closing of the acquisition and Xyphos has now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company. Additionally, Xyphos is entitled to potential future development milestone payments.

Xyphos's proprietary molecules can be delivered to natural immune cells or engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) cells to generate immunotherapies for oncology. Through the acquisition, Astellas gained Xyphos' novel and proprietary ACCEL (Advanced Cellular Control through Engineered Ligands) technology platform.

Xyphos' first convertible CAR-T cell product candidate is in preclinical development and scheduled to be tested in a first-in-human clinical study in 2021.

Immuno-oncology is a key area of Astellas’ research and the company has been taking strategic actions to bolster this pipeline.

Earlier this month, Astellas entered into a definitive agreement to acquire gene therapy company Audentes Therapeutics, Inc. BOLD for approximately $3 billion. Audentes' robust pipeline of promising product candidates, including its lead program AT132 for the treatment of X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy (XLMTM), is complementary to Astellas’ portfolio.

Astellas' shares have surged 36% in the year so far compared with the industry’s growth of 12.9%.

The going has been good for Astellas in recent times. The company also has collaborations with Pfizer PFE and Seattle Genetics SGEN for the development of other drugs.

Recently, the FDA granted accelerated approval to Astellas and Seattle Genetics' Padcev for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer, who have previously received a PD-1/L1 inhibitor and a platinum-containing chemotherapy before (neoadjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery or in a locally advanced or metastatic setting.

The FDA also approved a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for Pfizer and Astellas’ Xtandi (enzalutamide) for the treatment of patients with metastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer (mCSPC).

Astellas currently carries a Zacks Rank#3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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