Sangamo puts down $84M to acquire TxCell, diving into CAR-Treg space, autoimmune diseases

Looking to make a name for itself outside gene editing and gene therapy, Sangamo has snapped up a preclinical biotech specializing in regulatory T cells in an all-cash buyout of $84 million (€72 million) on a debt- and cash-free basis.

The biotech, TxCell, is developing a therapy based on CAR-modified Tregs for the prevention of graft rejection in solid organ transplantation, which Sangamo is planning to take to the clinic in 2019. That same technology, the companies contend, can be used to treat a slate of autoimmune diseases from bullous pemphigoid and Crohn’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

Stéphane Boissel

It’s an approach that delivers immunosuppression locally to targeted tissues, rather than the kind of global immune suppression offered by the current generation of anti-TNF drugs and monoclonal antibodies, according to Sangamo, which is paying around $3.02 (€2.58) per share. At market close on Friday — the same day both companies reached an agreement for the acquisition — TxCell was trading at €0.93. The number is now €2.32.

The plan is to first initiate trials in Europe, as TxCell’s headquarters are located in Valbonne, France. Meanwhile, Richmond, CA-based Sangamo will explore next-gen autologous and allogeneic CAR-Treg clel therapies using its famed zinc finger nuclease tech.

“[W]e believe Sangamo’s ZFN editing technology will facilitate the precise genetic modifications needed to create a new class of Treg-based antigen and tissue specific immunosuppressive medicines,” said Stephane Boissel, CEO of TxCell, in a statement.

Expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, the deal kicks off Sangamo’s focus on immunological diseases, adding to the cancer therapies it’s developing with Kite Pharma, the hemophilia and ALS pact with Pfizer, and the Huntington’s disease collaboration with Shire, among others.

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