Cell Medica has paid an undisclosed fee to acquire Delenex, a Swiss biotech that spun out of an ESBATech takeover by Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) in 2009. The acquisition will boost the Cell Medica portfolio, in particular with the single-chain variable fragment (scFV) technology that will be used as the targeting system for chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), therapies that are being developed in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine.
The proprietary PENTRA technology from Delenex, which has enabled fast developments of therapeutic antibiotics suitable for different routes of administration, will be integrated within Cell Medica’s development program, with the aim of creating next generation cellular immunotherapies with improved functionality and specificity.
Delenex spun out of ESBATech back in 2009, when the mother company was being acquired by Novartis in a $589 million deal. The following year, Delenex raised CHF 13.5 million, with the goal of using its scFV fragment platform to create standalone therapeutics. The plan has been derailed by a mid-phase failure however, and now Cell Medica is taking over to make another attempt at the technology.
Cell Medica believes that since scFV fragments come from the front, cancer-antigen-recognizing section of CAR molecules, they will be in a position to work with new cancer antigens. CEO Gregg Sando noted that they would be very quick and efficiently develop scFVs for new cancer antigens. That will be a crucial part of their development program for CAR products going forward with Baylor. Sando further notes that from the moment they knew they would collaborate with Baylor, they wanted to not only have the collaboration but extend that collaboration by bringing technologies that would help them develop products very efficiently with Baylor.
Following the acquisition, Cell Medica has gained access to the team behind Delenex’s platform. Delenex’s clinical staff and management are set to part ways with the company, but the 9-technical team will be staying and becoming part of Cell Medica. Delenex scientific groups and company’s Swiss laboratory facilities will be maintained with Cell Medica’s global research and development operations.