Astellas Pharma announced it is acquiring Ocata Therapeutics for $379M. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Astellas is the second largest drug company in Japan, generating over $10 billion in drug sales last year, while Ocata is headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Astellas’ cash flow is essential, because the company has agreed to pay $8.50 a share for Ocata, a 79% premium over the stock price last Friday.
Ocata Therapeutics, known as Advanced Cell Technology through November 2014, specializes in using pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), to address diseases of the eye.
The deal will also affect other business partners of Ocata’s, such as Allele Biotech, whose mRNA technology Ocata licenses to produce iPSC lines for treating diseases of the eye. Allele’s “footprint-free” reprogramming technology gave Ocata a consistent and scalable process for producing iPSCs that could be “used to manufacture millions of treatment doses as off-the-shelf therapies,” according to the Ocata announcement about the deal in March 2015.
To date, Ocata Therapeutics has focused on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) by conducting clinical trials using retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells produced from hESCs to address several types of macular degeneration. In 2011, Ocata tested its stem cell treatments in patients for the first time. Since that time, it has reported positive results for a number studies, most recently announcing that Asian patients with macular degeneration treated with Ocata’s proprietary RPE cells experienced positive results.
The company previously reported positive preliminary results for its RPE treatment in The Lancet, released October 15, 2014. Another recent success for Ocata was the finding that dogs treated with its proprietary hemangio-derived mesenchymal cell (HMCTM) technology achieved remission of anal furunculosis (CAF), a condition exhibiting similar traits to Crohn’s disease.
Ocata has always been known as trailblazer, led by stem cell expert and visionary, Dr. Robert Lanza. In fact, Lanza was awarded the honor of being an “iPSC Industry Influencer” by BioInformant in September of 2015. At the time of this acquisition, Ocata’s most products are now being tested in clinical trials for Stargardt’s macular degeneration, dry age-related macular degeneration, and myopic macular degeneration, making the company an interesting acquisition target for a massive drug company, such as Astellas Pharma.
Astellas plans to use the acquisition to further strengthen its ophthalmology products and establish itself in the area of cell therapy, a diversification beyond traditional drug-based approaches.
Click here to read the original press release about Astella’s acquisition of Ocata Therapeutics.
To learn more, view the “Compete 2015-16 Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Industry Report.”