Astellas to Acquire Biopharmaceutical Company for New Cancer Drugs

Astellaas Pharma has entered into an agreement to acquire Ganymed and its investigational cancer antibodies.

Astellas Pharma Inc recently announced plans to acquire Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG, building upon their oncology profile. Ganymed is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on creating antibodies for cancer, Astellas reported in a press release.

The acquisition is expected to close within the next few weeks, dependent on whether the acquisition receives regulatory approval.

“Oncology is one of our focus therapeutic areas and key drivers for our growth. The acquisition of Ganymed will enable Astellas to further expand our oncology presence by adding a late-stage antibody asset with the potential to establish a new pillar following Xtandi,” said Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and CEO, Astellas. “We aim to deliver a potential new therapeutic option to cancer patients who currently have limited treatment options available to them.”

The $422 million acquisition includes ownership of IMAB362, and Ganymed’s shareholders are eligible to receive additional payments of $860 million, as the development of the drug progresses.

IMAB362 is an investigational cancer drug that targets the tight junction protein Claudin18.2, which is only in stomach cells. Claudin18.2 is expressed in multiple cancers, including gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas, pancreatic, biliary, ovarian, and lung, Astellas reported.

In the phase 2b study, the drug plus chemotherapy extended median progression-free survival in patients with gasteoesophageal cancer positive for Claudin18.2 from 4.8 months to 7.9 months (HR 0.47, p=0.0001) compared with standard chemotherapy alone. IMAB362 also extended median overall survival from 8.4 months to 13.2 months (HR 0.51, p=0.0001), according to Astellas.

The drug also nearly doubled overall survival in patients with high levels of Claudin18.2 (16.7 months vs. 9.0 months, HR 0.45, p<0.0005). The drug works by activating antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, complement-dependent cytotoxicity.

In combination with chemotherapy, the drug can also cause T-cell infiltration, and modulation of the tumor microenvironment, Astellas wrote. Adverse effects include vomiting, nausea, and neutropenia.

The drug has been granted orphan drug designation for both gastric and pancreatic cancers in the US and in Europe.

“I am impressed by the competence, commitment and vision of Astella,” said Özlem Türeci, MD CEO and co-founder of Ganymed. “Recognizing their global resources, I am also confident that Astellas will be able to turn innovative science and promising clinical results into near-term value for patients."