Astellas drops ADCs for 'new technology'
- Tokyo-based Astellas announced Thursday it was shuttering its Agensys research operations in Santa Monica, California.
- The Japanese company said it was moving away from antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) research and "refining" its oncology by investing in new technologies.
- The Agensys wind-down will be completed by the first quarter of 2018. Astellas said it is still reviewing what impact this will have on its financial results.
In a move that seems to be on the menu of every pharma this week, Astellas is joining the reorganization bandwagon.
The Japanese pharma is moving away from the once-hot technology of ADCs, a technology that attaches a monoclonal antibody to a cytotoxic payload via a chemical linker. Instead, it is shifting focus to "new technologies" for oncology — likely the hot area of immuno-oncology.
"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," said Wataru Uchida, SVP of drug discovery research at Astellas, in a statement.
The company said it will continue certain clinical trials and collaborations, including its partnership with Seattle Genetics. The two companies have been collaborating on ADCs since January 2007.
Astellas picked up Agensys in 2007 for $387 million upfront cash, plus the promise of $150 million in milestones. At the time, Agensys has been an almost decade-old, privately held biotech that had shared little about its pipeline or technology. The Japanese pharma acquired the biotech to make it the center of its antibody discovery and development operations.
- Astellas Press release
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