Otsuka has high hopes for its ‘drug creation engine’ acquisition

Otsuka is paying $430 million for a US clinical-stage biotech company it hopes will act as a ‘drug creation engine’ to accelerate its research into kidney diseases.

Massachusetts-based Visterra designs and engineers antibody-based therapies in nephrology and other hard-to-treat diseases using its Hierotope platform.

Tatsuo Higuchi, president and representative director of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co, said: “I am highly gratified that Visterra’s exceptional antibody platform technology, promising pipeline and talented researchers will join up with Otsuka.

“By collaborating and reinforcing each other’s culture, human ingenuity and technology, we hope to help fulfill Visterra’s promise as a powerful new drug creation engine and expand Otsuka’s research horizons.”

The deal fits with Otsuka’s existing drive to increase the efficiency of its drug discovery work by looking to proprietary drug discovery and development platforms, including antibody development platforms.

Visterra’s Hierotope platform uses novel computational and experimental technologies to develop precision antibody-based therapies that can bind to, and modulate, disease targets that are not adequately addressed by current technologies in antibody therapeutics.

Brian Pereira, CEO of Visterra, said: “This transaction affirms the power of Visterra’s novel technology platform, the promise of our product candidates, and the value our employees and shareholders have created.

“Our two companies share a common culture of creativity and innovation, and commitment to patients with kidney diseases, cancer and other hard-to-treat diseases. Joining forces with Otsuka will provide Visterra the resources, support and commitment to accelerate development of our pipeline and fully realise the potential of our technology platform.”

The biotech firm’s pipeline includes programmes targeting IgA nephropathy and other kidney diseases, as well as work in oncology, chronic pain and infectious diseases.

The deal has the approval of the Otsuka and Visterra boards of directors and is expected to be completed by the end of September, after which Visterra will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka’s US holding company but continue to operate from its current Waltham, Massachusetts base.

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.