Drug Development

Celyad bounces back from heart study flop to ink a $312M I/O deal with Ono

Just a few days after its stem cell therapy for damaged hearts flunked a mid-stage study, Belgium’s Celyad is back with a Japanese pharma deal for their immuno-oncology work.

Ono Pharmaceutical is hitching its wagon to Celyad’s twist on CAR-T tech. In exchange for $12.5 million in cash and close to $300 million in biobuck milestones, Ono snags the rights to use Celyad’s $CYAD engineered cell tech to develop new cancer therapies for Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

The first wave of CAR-Ts engineer patients’ T cells with a chimeric antigen receptor to turn them into weapons that can hunt down and destroy cancer cells. Keying off of animal data, Celyad is using natural killer cell receptors to do the work on allogeneic, or off-the-shelf, cells.

The former Cardio3 changed its name to Celyad in part to highlight its change of focus to the trendy I/O arena, though it kept the stem cell tech in the clinic. Its share price was buffeted badly recently when the Belgian biotech tried, and largely failed, to get investors to focus on fragments of positive data from the heart study.

Here’s Ono CEO Gyo Sagara in a statement:

We are very delighted to collaborate with the leading cell therapy company, Celyad, for its distinct immuno-oncology candidates. Celyad’s NKR-2 is backed by cutting-edge science and we believe that it can be a new therapeutic option for patients who are not cured with existing therapies.

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