After raising a bit more than $117 million from some blue chip backers like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vertex and Flagship, Waltham, MA-based Visterra has agreed to a $430 million buyout deal, joining Japan’s Otsuka as a subsidiary.
Visterra and its antibody platform — all about binding to epitopes — will now remain in operation under Otsuka, which joins a growing group of Japanese companies with a big presence in the Boston hub.
Just last fall Visterra CEO Brian Pereira topped up their C round and closed it with $46.7 million in venture cash — enough to steer their lead program through a Phase IIb while getting another therapy through Phase I. And right after the latest venture round, George Scangos’ new infectious disease startup Vir stepped up with a $1 billion-plus development deal for up to 5 new drugs.
The lead program is for VIS410, designed to fight influenza A in a way that centers on epitopes common across all strains of a virus. Targeting that immutable spot on the ever-changing flu virus with tech insights out of the lab of MIT’s Ram Sasisekharan could lead to a durable remedy for large numbers of patients.
Their C round last fall came after a failed attempt at an IPO, which was dropped well before the big wave of new offerings that hit earlier this year.
Otsuka President Tatsuo Higuchi noted:
I am highly gratified that Visterra’s exceptional antibody platform technology, promising pipeline and talented researchers will join up with Otsuka.
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