- Magenta Therapeutics is exploring a potential sale or merger as part of a business review it announced Thursday. The news comes one week after Magenta disclosed a patient had died in a clinical trial of one of its lead drug candidates.
- The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, which is developing conditioning regimens to prepare patients for stem cell transplants and gene therapy, said Thursday it would also pause drug development as it looks for an acquisition or merger.
- Magenta stock jumped by 40% in morning trading on the news. But at under $1 apiece, shares have lost more than 90% of their value since an initial public offering in 2018.
The past two years have been tough for Magenta, which received a clinical hold on its lead candidate MGTA-117 in July 2021 and undertook a company restructuring in April 2022.
The biotech’s latest setback came last week, when it announced an adult study volunteer had died during a Phase 1/2 trial for MGTA-117, an antibody drug used to condition patients for stem cell transplants.
In December, Magenta had announced it stopped dosing some patients in the trial after two of three participants given the highest tested dose experienced serious side effects, including elevated liver enzyme counts and respiratory issues. The patient who died had received the second-highest dose tested.
Now, the company — which has previously partnered with gene therapy developers Beam Therapeutics and Avrobio — is looking for “strategic alternatives.”
“There can be no assurance that this review process will result in Magenta pursuing a transaction or that any transaction, if pursued, will be completed on attractive terms,” the company said in a Thursday statement.
Magenta debuted in public markets in 2018 with a $100 million IPO. Previously, it had raised $83 million in private financing rounds, backed by institutional investors such as Third Rock Ventures and Atlas Venture.
Like many other public biotech companies, its stock price has fallen over the past year. That led the company to lay off 14% of its staff last spring, in addition to cutting its research and development expenses in a bid to extend its runway to 2024, according to Fierce Biotech.