11:50 AM
 | 
Jul 11, 2018
 |  BC Extra  |  Company News

Otsuka acquiring antibody play Visterra

Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) is acquiring antibody developer Visterra Inc. (Waltham, Mass.) for $430 million in cash, the companies said Wednesday.

The deal gives Otsuka a pipeline based on Visterra's Hierotope platform, which is designed to target specific, highly networked epitopes believed to be important in the function of antigens. Otsuka said it is prioritizing platform-based R&D, including antibody development platforms, to make drug discovery more efficient.

Visterra's most advanced program is VIS410, a broad-spectrum mAb against a conserved influenza A virus hemagglutinin (HA). It is in a Phase IIb trial to treat hospitalized patients with influenza A. It is developing several candidates for renal diseases, including VIS649 to treat IgA nephropathy. That program, which is in preclinical testing, is a mAb targeting cytokine TNF ligand superfamily member 13 (TNFSF13; APRIL). Its pipeline also includes preclinical programs for multiple myeloma and chronic pain.

Otsuka's marketed products and pipeline include programs for CNS disorders, hematological cancers and kidney, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

Visterra will become a subsidiary of Otsuka's U.S. unit -- Otsuka America Inc. -- and will retain its staff in Waltham. Both companies' boards have approved the deal, and the parties expect the transaction to close this quarter.

Visterra had raised $116.9 million to date, according to BioCentury's BCIQ database. Most recently, it closed a $46.7 million series C round in October 2017. Investors included Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd. (Pune, India), CTI Life Sciences, Allegheny Financial Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MRL Ventures Fund, Vertex Venture Holdings, Polaris Partners, Flagship Pioneering, Omega Funds, Cycad Group and Alexandria Venture Investments (see "Visterra Tops Off Series C Round").

In February 2017, Visterra withdrew a proposed IPO on NASDAQ, citing market conditions.

Other acquisitions by Otsuka of U.S. companies include ADHD company Neurovance Inc. in 2017, CNS company Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2015 and cancer company Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2013.

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