- Boehringer Ingelheim will pay 1.18 billion euros, or roughly $1.4 billion, to buy the private Swiss biotech NBE-Therapeutics and gain access to its technology for targeted cancer treatment.
- Boehringer is building on an earlier investment from its venture fund that helped found NBE along with other investors including PPF Group and Novo Holdings of Denmark.
- The companies expect their deal to close in the first quarter of next year, at which point NBE will operate as a new site within the larger Boehringer organization while staying in its current headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.
NBE is the latest in a string of acquisitions meant to strengthen Boehringer's position in the cancer drug market. In 2018, the German pharmaceutical giant paid 210 million euros for the immune-oncology company ViraTherapeutics. The following year, it brought in AMAL Therapeutics SA, a cancer vaccine developer, through a deal valued at as much as 325 million euros.
NBE brings experience with antibody drug conjugates, or ADCs, to Boehringer’s portfolio. The technology, which links a tumor-targeting antibody to a toxic chemical, has blossomed in recent years, leading to multiple deals between biotechs and larger drugmakers.
The lead candidate in NBE's portfolio focuses on a cell surface protein called ROR1 that's found on tumors. The company has advanced the drug, NBE-002, into clinical studies for triple negative breast cancer and other types of solid tumors. NBE expects the first results from an early-stage dosing study next year.
ROR1 has also caught the eye of Merck & Co., which last month agreed to pay nearly $3 billion to acquire VelosBio, a privately held, San Diego-based biotech that works on antibody treatments for cancer. VelosBio's drug VLS-101 is in early- and mid-stage testing for blood cancers and solid tumors.
Boehringer hopes NBE’s technology will help it build a leading portfolio of ADC drugs, and explore combination treatments with other products. The targeted approach taken by ADCs has the potential to kill tumor cells while sparing patients the overwhelming side effects that can come with systemic cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, the company noted.
The total value of the NBE transaction includes contingent clinical and regulatory milestone payments.