CDMO makes an AI and drug discovery play in latest, small-time acquisition
The CDMO outfit iBio has netted a deal that sees it gain access to an AI-based platform as well as new therapeutic candidates as it looks to dive further into drug discovery.
iBio closed on acquiring several assets from the San Diego-based biotech RubrYc Therapeutics, snapping up several oncology programs. The cost includes a $1 million upfront payment as well as the ability of RubrYc’s investors to receive up to $5 million in milestones over the next several years.
The move itself was welcomed by investors, as iBio saw its stock price $IBIO rise around 12% so far today, but the company has a lot of work to do as it still finds itself in the penny stock zone, facing a 66% drop since this point last year.
While acquisitions usually have a higher price point, iBio CEO Tom Isett said in an interview with Endpoints News, RubrYc had a full plate in its drug discovery while also developing its AI platform. Forming a deal with iBio would be a better fit, he said.
According to Isett, iBio is moving more into the drug discovery game and has started up its own product discovery center in San Diego, which has around 10 employees. Both iBio and RubrYc established a working relationship around a year ago, and the AI platform appealed to Isett and iBio to progress its discovery efforts.
“We’re in a somewhat better position than the small private company to go ahead and help take [candidates] forward. Between the great fit and the working relationships that we have, a culture and a team environment, the two kind of came together such that it was in the best interest, versus seeking large sums of cash to try to move all these things forward themselves,” Isett told Endpoints.
The deal will also see RubrYc’s computational biologists coming under iBio’s umbrella to work on the AI platform while the wet lab workers for RubrYc will remain in place.
As iBio has embarked on this new field of drug discovery, they are certainly not putting their manufacturing abilities by the wayside. Isett emphasizes that the company now has more powerful tools for its discovery work and with its already established manufacturing capabilities, it can go from the discovery stage to the production of an actual product, in a faster amount of time.
For now, Isett said the focus of iBio will be on developing its candidate IBIO-101, a CD25 monoclonal antibody meant to treat cancers, that the company in-licensed from RubrYc last year. Isett also said that the company will further research the antibody library that it picked up in the deal.