M&A Frenzy: Incyte and Villaris, AmplifyBio and PACT, Estrella Gets Nasdaq Listing (Update)

With eyes on the potential expansion of its dermatology pipeline, Incyte Corporation will be to acquire private company Villaris Therapeutics and its experimental vitiligo treatment, auremolimab, for up to $1.4 billion.

Incyte obtains exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize auremolimab for all uses, including vitiligo and other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Auremolimab is an anti-IL-15Rβ monoclonal antibody that should enter clinical trials next year. It is designed to target and deplete self-reactive memory resident T cells.

Vitiligo, the primary indication for auremolimab, is a dermatological condition that results in the loss of pigment cells in the skin. This can create discolored spots on the skin and hair. Preclinical data for auremolimab demonstrates high potency, selectivity and efficacy in vitiligo, Incyte noted in its announcement.

Incyte’s acquisition of auremolimab is seen as complementary to its current portfolio, which includes Opzelura cream (ruxolitinib), a treatment approved for non-segmental vitiligo in adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older.

Under the financial terms of the agreement, Incyte will make an upfront payment of $70 million to Villaris, which Medicxi is backing.

Shareholders of the company will be eligible for an additional $310 million upon achieving various development milestones. If auremolimab is approved for commercial use, Villaris shareholders will be eligible for an additional $1.05 billion in commercial milestones on net product sales.

AmplifyBio acquires PACT Pharma

Incyte isn’t the only company showing its M&A muscle this week.

AmplifyBio, an Ohio-based contract research organization, to acquire private PACT Pharmaa company developing neoantigen-specific T cell receptor cell therapies.

This acquisition will allow AmplifyBio to go beyond the safety, efficacy and toxicology services it currently offers. The company acquires advanced characterization platforms and bioinformatics capabilities.

Additionally, the acquisition brings together 40 drug development experts under the AmplifyBio umbrella to enhance cell and gene therapy service offerings. Additionally, AmplifyBio will gain PACT’s advanced lab space in South San Francisco. AmplifyBio plans to add a third site in New Albany, Ohio, which consists of 350,000 square feet of multi-purpose lab space.

The Company intends to add complex genotypic and phenotypic characterization testing capabilities for late-stage development in Ohio. AmplifyBio plans to add additional development platforms and partnerships to become a commercial accelerator delivering safe, effective and reproducible advanced therapies to patients, the company said in its announcement.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

AmplifyBio President and CEO J. Kelly Ganjei told BioSpace that the acquisition allows the company to move from a single preclinical CRO to an integrated environment that will allow customers access to technologies and platforms and to understand the mechanisms based on biology. and immunology. It will also help to understand the characteristics of advanced therapies.

“We had already started to build this organically, as we believe this is a critical gap in scaling new therapies safely and effectively, but finding this skill set at PACT allows us to start much earlier than expected,” said Ganjei.

Estrella merges with SPAC

New York-based Estrella Biopharma will earn a spot on the Nasdaq Exchange with a merger with TradeUP Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company. Once the merger is complete, Estrella will be renamed Estrella Immunopharma, Inc.

The new company will continue to be led by the current management team, including Cheng Liu, President and CEO.

Estrella is a preclinical company developing ARTEMIS T-cell therapies targeting CD19 for hematologic and solid tumors. The company has several assets under development, including major assets EB103 and EB104.

EB103 targets CD19, a protein expressed on almost all surfaces of B-cell leukemias and lymphomas. EB104 targets CD19 and CD22, a protein expressed on the surface of mature B cells.

In addition to these assets, Estrella collaborates with Imugene Ltd. on the development of CF33-CD19t, an oncolytic virus designed to force solid tumor cells to express a CD19 target. Companies are hoping this will enable a “mark and kill” strategy.

When the merger is complete, the value of the combined company is expected to be approximately $398.5 million.