Galapagos to acquire CellPoint and AboundBio to advance cell therapies


Belgian headquartered biotech Galapagos NV has acquired CellPoint and AboundBio, a move the Belgian company said propels it into next-generation cell therapy.

Galapagos said the acquisitions give it access to an innovative, scalable, decentralized and automated point-of-care cell therapy supply model as well as a next-generation fully human antibody-based therapeutics platform. 

Galapagos said the goal is to expand the current market for CAR-T therapies and have an impact on patients in need of additional and improved treatment options.

Current cell therapy treatments, which involve extracting cells from patients and manufacturing taking place at dedicated remote (or central) facilities, present some challenges, including cost, manufacturing times that can take up to six weeks, and toxicity issues. 

CellPoint has developed, in a strategic collaboration with Lonza, a point-of-care supply model, which offers the potential for efficient, seven-day delivery of CAR-T therapies and avoids complex logistics, thereby addressing important limitations of current CAR-T treatments. 

The platform consists of CellPoint’s end-to-end xCellit workflow management and monitoring software and Switzerland-based Lonza’s Cocoon system, a closed, automated manufacturing platform for cell and gene therapies. It could potentially reduce cost and importantly, for patients to receive treatment tailored to their own cells within a week of patient sampling.   

Clinical studies

Clinical studies with the CellPoint decentralized supply model have been approved by regulatory authorities in Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands. Two phase 1/2a studies are currently ongoing with topline results expected in the first half of 2023, providing the opportunity for a rapid clinical validation of the CAR-T point-of-care supply model. 

The aim is to leverage CellPoint’s platform for novel CAR-Ts originating from AboundBio’s fully human antibody-based library and biological drug discovery and engineering capabilities, with the goal of bringing three additional differentiated, next-generation CAR-T candidates in the clinic over the next three years.

“Changing patients’ lives”

“With the transactions announced today, we position ourselves as a potential innovator in CAR-T, while building a strong foundation from which we can drive continued innovation for patients with advanced cancers who are in need of new treatment options. Our goal is to bring three differentiated, next-generation CAR-T candidates into the clinic over the next three years,” said Paul Stoffels, CEO of Galapagos. 

“This is a first key step in our strategic transformation to accelerate and diversify our pipeline with the aim to create short- and long-term value through focused external growth. We continue to explore additional business development opportunities to further leverage our internal capabilities and renew our portfolio, and we expect to communicate a detailed update on our corporate strategy and portfolio later this year.”

“We are excited to become part of Galapagos to accelerate the development, commercialization and scale-up of our cutting-edge vein-to-vein CAR-T delivery model,” Tol Trimborn, co-founder and CEO of CellPoint, said. 

“Despite the progress with current CAR-T therapies, long lead times, highly manual central manufacturing, and complex logistics remain the limiting factors for large-scale capacity and broad patient access. Our novel decentralized manufacturing and supply model is designed to address these limitations and deliver CAR-T cells at point-of-care, in or near the hospital, thereby offering the potential to significantly shorten time to treatment to one week as compared to the current industry standard of over a month.”

John Mellors, CEO of AboundBio, added: “Our next-generation of fully human, multi-paratopic and multi-specific CAR-T constructs offer the potential for deeper, more durable responses to treatment as well as retreatment for relapse following previous CAR-T cell therapy

“Combined with CellPoint’s decentralized point-of-care delivery model, we aim to broaden patient access and ultimately change patients’ lives. We are impressed by the leadership and expertise at Galapagos and look forward to our exciting journey ahead.”

About the deal

Under the terms of the agreements, Galapagos is to acquire all outstanding shares of CellPoint and AboundBio in an all-cash transaction against payment of an upfront amount of €125 million ($131.5 million) for CellPoint, with an additional €100 million ($105 million) to be paid upon achievement of certain milestones, and against payment of an amount of $14 million for AboundBio. 

The deal saw the Lausanne-based team of US venture capital firm, +ND Capital, mark its second successful exit in the European biotech market. 

Dani Bach, partner at +ND Capital and CellPoint board member, said: “We saw the potential in CellPoint’s decentralized manufacturing and supply model to address current limitations and deliver CAR-T cells at the point-of-care, in or near the hospital, thereby significantly shortening vein-to-vein time to six days as compared to the current industry standard of more than a month. As well as the better convenience and lower costs, we believe shorter vein-to-vein times will translate into a better safety profile, while keeping the same efficacy.”

Patrick Aebischer, senior partner at +ND Capital, and founder of the firm’s European operations, said: “This deal is further validation of our strategy to invest in company creation in Europe. I’m convinced that plenty of European innovation remains untapped and ripe for our team’s unique talent in identifying and building up successful companies. 

“Above all, it provides cancer patients with new hope in the form of a disruptive technology that could lead to a promising, radical approach to cell therapy.” 

Cover image: Shutterstock

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