Takeda Operations Heat Up with New Research Partnerships and Acquisitions

Takeda_Jonathan Weiss

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Major players in the biotech industry are moving full steam ahead in their 2021 operations goals despite the ongoing pandemic, with global pharmaceutical giant Takeda being no exception. The Japanese biopharmaceutical company just announced it has entered into a broad strategic collaboration with KSQ Therapeutics to research, develop and commercialize novel immune-oncology agents using the latter company’s proprietary CRISPRomics® discovery platform.

The discovery platform will be used in clinical research to screen the entire human genome in an effort to find optimal gene targets for autoimmune and oncology disease. Under terms of the agreement, Takeda will obtain exclusive, worldwide and royalty-bearing license to develop, manufacturer and commercialize both cell and non-cell therapy candidates for the modulation of targets identified with KSQ’s CRISPRomics platform.

Research will focus on two T-cell targets that have already been identified and validated by KSQ. The collaborative agreement lists the potential to introduce an additional two T-cell targets. Also, both Takeda and KSQ will team up to identify and develop agents that modulate natural killer (NK) cell targets.

“The T-cell and NK-cell target discovery approach complements our portfolio aimed at turning cold tumors hot and redirecting the innate immune system to elicit a sustained and durable immune response against tumors,” said Loïc Vincent, Head, Oncology Drug Discovery Unit and Immunology Unit at Takeda, in a statement. “Working alongside KSQ will facilitate smart drug discovery and development of what we hope will be transformative new therapies for patients with intractable forms of cancer.”

John Trzupek, Chief Business Officer at KSQ, added, “We have demonstrated with our recent positive preclinical data on our lead targeted oncology program KSQ-4279, the differentiated ability of our discovery platform to identify and de-risk high-value, novel oncology targets.”

Upfront and potential clinical milestones may exceed $100 million, according to terms of the partnership agreement. KSQ will be eligible for other option payments in addition to payments associated with hitting development and commercialization milestones. The option and milestone payments may be worth over $400 million per program, depending on the target. Tired royalties on net sales of each approved product, directed toward KSQ, were also written into the contractual agreement.

In addition to this new agreement, Takeda’s gene editing partner EmendoBio was recently acquired by AnGes to the tune of $250 million. The acquisition brings into the fold EmendoBio’s next-generation CRISPR gene editing technology that uses dual proprietary technology platforms. The company’s OMNI™ technologies incorporates protein engineering “to expand opportunities in genome-editing based drug development, by engineering high precision editing, including allele-specific editing, while maintaining high efficiencies,” according to a statement made by the company.

Less than one year ago, AnGes led a $61 million Series B financing round for EmendoBio by funneling $50 million to the Takeda partner. The acquisition allows EmendoBio to act as an independent and wholly owned subsidiary of AnGes.

“This transaction underscores the potential of EmendoBio’s novel technology platforms, the promise of our product candidates, and the value that our employees, strategic partners and founding investors, OrbiMed and Takeda Ventures, Inc. have created within the company,” according to a statement made by David Baram, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of EmendoBio. “The alliance with AnGes brings new resources and synergies to our operations that will accelerate product development, partnerships and commercial opportunities in the years ahead.”

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