Over the last three years, there have been eight cancer cell therapy M&A deals for advanced first generation and next gen cancer cell therapy companies. Six of them have been completed to date. Data for this analysis was compiled using the DealForma biopharma deals database. We applied initial filters for mergers and acquisitions of companies developing cell therapies for cancer and excluded terminated acquisition offers. From there, we exported the data to Excel, segmented the list by whether the target company’s cell therapy would be considered first generation or next gen, and used pivot tables and charts to do the rest. All data are based on publicly disclosed figures. We invite you to answer interesting questions on biopharma business development and licensing using our data and carefully curated profiles on deals, pipelines, companies, funding, and business executives by visiting dealforma.com to schedule your personalized demo.
As the 38th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference approached, we used the DealForma deals database to evaluate the recent M&A activity in the cancer cell therapy space. With Yescarta axicabtagene ciloleucel and Kymriah tisagenlecleucel now on the market for two years, cell immunotherapies are one of the newest forms of treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer. We identified eight total cancer cell therapy-focused acquisitions announced in the last three years, six of which have been completed and are highlighted below in order based on deal value. Included in the broader cell therapy analysis that follows were M&A’s, reverse mergers, exercised acquisition options and partnerships with an acquisition option. Terminated acquisition offers were excluded, and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $74 billion acquisition of Celgene was charted separately.
Gilead Sciences acquired Kite Pharma
- Date Announced: August 28, 2017
- Total Deal Value: $11.9 billion
- Target Stage at Acquisition: Phase III
- Main Asset at Acquisition: Yescarta (chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T therapy)
Celgene acquired Juno Therapeutics
- Date Announced: January 22, 2018
- Total Deal Value: $9 billion
- Target Stage at Acquisition: Phase II
- Main Asset at Acquisition: JCAR017 (lisocabtagene maraleucel; liso-cel) – CAR-T therapy
Astellas Pharma acquired Xyphos Biosciences
- Date Announced: December 26, 2019
- Total Deal Value: $665 million
- Target Stage at Acquisition: Preclinical/IND
- Main Asset at Acquisition: “convertibleCAR-T” cell product, ACCEL (Advanced Cellular Control through Engineered Ligands) technology platform
Gilead, Kite acquired Cell Design Labs
- Date Announced: December 7, 2017
- Total Deal Value: $567 million
- Target Stage at Acquisition: Platform/Discovery
- Main Asset at Acquisition: synNotch and Throttle technology platforms for CAR-T cells
Astellas acquired Universal Cells
- Date Announced: February 13, 2018
- Total Deal Value: $102.5 million
- Target Stage at Acquisition: Preclinical/IND
- Main Asset at Acquisition: Universal Donor Stem Cell technology
Kiadis acquired CytoSen Therapeutics
- Date Announced: April 17, 2019
- Total Deal Value: Not Disclosed
- Target Stage at Acquisition: Phase III
- Main Asset at Acquisition: ATIR101 (Allodepleted T-cell immunotherapy, discontinued development as of November 2019); CSDT002-NK (natural killer-cell therapy)
Two M&A option deals that are yet to be exercised are Kite’s research partnership and an option to acquire Gadeta, and Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ (Takeda Oncology) research partnership and option to acquire GammaDelta Therapeutics.
Using DealForma’s deals database, we also evaluated M&A trends over the past decade of companies developing first and next generation cell therapy, gene therapy, other immuno-oncology therapies, and small molecules for cancer.
Finally, we compared the macro-trends of cancer immunotherapy/cell therapy M&A field with other technology fields including small molecules, diagnostics and gene therapy/vectors.
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Specifically for Biotech, Pharma, Device, and Diagnostics
Marie Daghlian is a freelance writer and editor who reports on the business of biotechnology and healthcare technologies and on rare diseases for Global Gene’s Rare Daily. She also covers the industry for Big4Bio, a daily newsletter focused on the four major biotech centers in the United States.
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The top deal upfront for November 2021 was the Owkin – Sanofi artificial intelligence and federated learning platform research partnership to advance Sanofi’s oncology pipeline. Owkin will receive a $180M upfront equity investment, $90M in R&D funding over 3 years, and is eligible for additional undisclosed R&D milestones.
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August 2021 Top Biopharma Deal: RemeGen – Seagen HER2-targeted ADC, Disitamab Vedotin for Solid Tumors
The top deal upfront for August 2021 was the RemeGen – Seagen deal for HER2-targeted ADC disitamab vedotin for solid tumors. RemeGen will receive $200M in cash up front and is eligible to receive up to $2.4 billion in milestones, plus tiered, high single-digit to mid-teen royalties.
Top Biopharma Deal July 2021: Arvinas – Pfizer ARV-471 PROTAC Protein Degrader for ER+/HER2- Breast Cancer
The top biopharma deal upfront for July 2021 was Arvinas and Pfizer’s partnership for PROTAC protein degrader ARV-471 ER+/HER2- breast cancer. Arvinas will receive $650M in cash up front, $350M in an equity investment, and is eligible to receive up to $1.4 billion in milestones, plus a 50% cost and profit split.
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Top Biopharma Deal May 2021: Agenus – BMS for AGEN-1777 Bispecific Anti-TIGIT Antibody for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The top biopharma deal upfront for May 2021 was Agenus and BMS’ partnership for anti-TIGIT mAb AGEN-1777. Agenus will receive $200M up front.
Top Biopharma Deal April 2021: CRISPR – Vertex for CTX001 for Sickle Cell Disease and Transfusion-Dependent Beta-Thalassemia
CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals amended their 2015 deal to develop and commercialize gene editing therapies. This expansion is for Phase I/II CTX001 for severe sickle cell diseases and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia. CRISPR will receive $900M up front, up to $200M in milestones upon the first regulatory approval, and a cost/profit split of 40%.
Debiopharm granted Merck exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Xevinapant in Phase III for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Debiopharm will receive EUR188M ($227M) up front and is eligible for up to EUR710M ($856M) in milestones, plus royalties. This was the largest upfront cash and equity for a partnership signed in March 2021.
Biotech and pharma deals in 2020 soared to an all-time high of 1,154 signed deals with $146.3 billion in total value, defying expectations that the global Covid-19 pandemic would hamper dealmaking. Global healthcare and life sciences R&D partnership activity was up 23 percent over 2019 and total deal values rose 31 percent from the previous year, driven in part by advances in technological and molecular understandings of disease pathways, and a drive toward targeted precision medicines.
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