Astel­las is shut­ter­ing Agen­sys, ax­ing 220 jobs and mov­ing away from ADC tech

Wataru Uchi­da, Astel­las

A decade ago Agen­sys’ an­ti­body work looked so ap­peal­ing that Astel­las hap­pi­ly paid $387 mil­lion in cash for it, re­serv­ing $150 mil­lion more in mile­stones. To­day, though, the Japan­ese phar­ma com­pa­ny says it is shut­ting down the op­er­a­tion in San­ta Mon­i­ca, CA and mov­ing on from an­ti­body-drug con­ju­ga­tions, lay­ing off all of the 220 staffers — un­less they can land an­oth­er job in the com­pa­ny.

Astel­las made it clear that while the com­pa­ny is con­tin­u­ing to use some of the ADC tech and test drugs tak­en from the ac­qui­si­tion, it’s look­ing to oth­er tech­nolo­gies for R&D.

In a state­ment to End­points News, the com­pa­ny said:

Astel­las is re­fin­ing its on­col­o­gy strat­e­gy by ex­pand­ing its in­vest­ment in the re­search of new tech­nolo­gies and modal­i­ties, such as im­muno-on­col­o­gy (I/O), and re­duc­ing its fo­cus on ADC re­search. The com­pa­ny be­lieves I/O is a ma­jor area for in­no­va­tion. Agen­sys op­er­a­tions, which have been pri­mar­i­ly fo­cused on re­search and dis­cov­ery of AD­Cs, are not aligned to this strate­gic shift in our fo­cus, thus we have de­cid­ed to wind-down re­search op­er­a­tion at the fa­cil­i­ty. The wind-down ac­tiv­i­ties be­gan on Ju­ly 26 and will be com­plet­ed in the first quar­ter of cal­en­dar year 2018.

There are ap­prox­i­mate­ly 220 em­ploy­ees at Agen­sys. We will be re­tain­ing no em­ploy­ees past Feb­ru­ary 2018 un­less they ap­ply for and re­ceive a po­si­tion in oth­er parts of the com­pa­ny. Cer­tain em­ploy­ees es­sen­tial to the wind-down process will be re­tained through first quar­ter 2018.

“Agen­sys has pos­i­tive­ly con­tributed to Astel­las’ ob­jec­tive of de­vel­op­ing in­no­v­a­tive treat­ments for pa­tients with can­cer,” said Wataru Uchi­da, se­nior vice pres­i­dent, Astel­las. “The team has pro­vid­ed post-Proof of Con­cept com­pounds and an­ti­body-re­lat­ed tech­nol­o­gy that have been in­cor­po­rat­ed in­to our promis­ing on­col­o­gy pipeline. Yet, the field of re­search has evolved and led to a new fron­tier of treat­ment op­tions. Ex­pand­ing our in­vest­ment in this new area of re­search and de­vel­op­ment will be crit­i­cal­ly im­por­tant and help us to bet­ter ad­dress high un­met med­ical needs, as well as de­liv­er in­no­v­a­tive ben­e­fits to pa­tients in the fight against many types of can­cers.”

Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

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Janet Woodcock is set to be the most powerful person at the FDA in less than a week.

The veteran regulator and longtime director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has been tapped as acting commissioner of the FDA, according to reports by BioCentury’s Steve Usdin and Pink Sheet’s Sarah Karlin-Smith.

The appointment was requested by the incoming Biden team, Karlin-Smith added, as they sort out the nomination of a permanent successor to Stephen Hahn — whose one-year tenure has been defined by Covid-19.

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Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

Janet Wood­cock is in the run­ning for FDA com­mis­sion­er — what does that mean for the agen­cy's fu­ture?

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Steve Harr (L) and Hans Bishop

Paint­ing by the num­bers, Sana founders carve up a gi­ant uni­corn-sized IPO — for a biotech that has­n't quite made it to the clin­ic

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CEO Brett Monia (Ionis)

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David Kessler in April 2009 (Eric Risberg/AP Images)

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Friday the European agency put out the 5th in a series of statements about the hackers who broke into their system, noting that some of the information on vaccines that was gleaned in the attack is showing up online — altered to raise questions about the Covid-19 vaccines now in use.

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UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen tops cost watch­dog's price gougers list based on 'un­sup­port­ed' in­creas­es for En­brel with­out mean­ing­ful da­ta

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (AP Images)

#JPM21: Al­bert Bourla pre­pares Pfiz­er to set­tle in to next phase post-Up­john, but that does­n't mean he's rul­ing out deals

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Stefan Oelrich (Bayer)

What can a 157-year-old phar­ma gi­ant bring to the ta­ble of cell and gene ther­a­pies? Quite a bit, Bay­er says

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