Precigen, Inc. | July 06, 2022
Precigen, Inc. a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of innovative gene and cell therapies to improve the lives of patients, announced that the Company has entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of its wholly-owned non-healthcare subsidiary, Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. an industry-leading animal reproductive technologies company, to URUS, a holding company with cooperative and private ownership, for $170 million in upfront cash and up to $10 million earn-out based on the performance of Trans Ova in 2022 and 2023. Consummation of the transaction, anticipated in Q3 2022, is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
"We believe this transaction will support Precigen's mission as a premier cell and gene therapy company laser focused on the rapid development of our top clinical assets to maximize shareholder value and potentially improve the way devastating diseases like cancer are treated. I am proud of Precigen management and the Trans Ova team for successfully leading the financial turnaround of Trans Ova operations to maximize the value of this asset over the last two years. We expect to have the capacity to pay the convertible notes upon maturity and to focus on fast regulatory paths for our healthcare portfolio."
Helen Sabzevari, PhD, President and CEO of Precigen
Rabo Securities USA, Inc. is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Precigen and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is providing Precigen with legal support for the transaction.
Precigen: Advancing Medicine with Precision™
Precigen is a dedicated discovery and clinical stage biopharmaceutical company advancing the next generation of gene and cell therapies using precision technology to target the most urgent and intractable diseases in our core therapeutic areas of immuno-oncology, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. Our technologies enable us to find innovative solutions for affordable biotherapeutics in a controlled manner. Precigen operates as an innovation engine progressing a preclinical and clinical pipeline of well-differentiated therapies toward clinical proof-of-concept and commercialization.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Merck and Orna Therapeutics | August 17, 2022
Merck known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new investigational class of engineered circular RNA therapies, today announced a collaboration agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize multiple programs, including vaccines and therapeutics in the areas of infectious disease and oncology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will make an upfront payment to Orna of $150 million, which will be expensed by Merck in the third quarter of 2022 and included in non-GAAP results. In addition, Orna will be eligible to receive up to $3.5 billion in development, regulatory, and sales milestones associated with the progress of the multiple vaccine and therapeutic programs, as well as royalties on any approved products derived from the collaboration. Orna will retain rights to its oRNA-LNP technology platform and will continue to advance other wholly owned programs in areas such as oncology and genetic disease. Merck will also invest $100 million of equity in Orna’s recently completed Series B financing round.
Orna’s proprietary oRNA technology creates circular RNAs from linear RNAs by self-circularization. oRNA molecules have been shown to have greater stability in vivo than linear mRNA and have the potential to produce larger quantities of therapeutic proteins inside the body. Newly synthesized oRNA molecules are more compactly packaged into custom lipid nanoparticles which Orna has engineered to target key tissues in the body. Preclinical data, including presentations at the 2022 American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy Annual Meeting, have demonstrated the potential of oRNA expression and delivery as an approach for further development in multiple areas, including vaccines and oncology therapeutics.
“This broad strategic collaboration brings together Merck’s significant expertise in nucleic acid biology, clinical development, and manufacturing with Orna’s compelling circular RNA technology to explore the opportunity to develop a new generation of potential vaccines and therapeutics. We look forward to working with the talented scientific and technical teams at Orna."
Fiona Marshall, senior vice president and head of discovery, preclinical and translational medicine at Merck Research Laboratories
“We are thrilled to collaborate with Merck, a company committed to breakthrough science, which has recognized the potential our platform can bring to patients. Our oRNA technology plus novel delivery solutions are designed to unlock the full potential of RNA in therapeutics and vaccines,” said Tom Barnes, Chief Executive Officer of Orna. “The combined expertise of Orna and Merck aims to accelerate the development of RNA therapeutics for patients in need of better treatment options.”
At Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, we are unified around our purpose: We use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. For more than 130 years, we have brought hope to humanity through the development of important medicines and vaccines. We aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world – and today, we are at the forefront of research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals. We foster a diverse and inclusive global workforce and operate responsibly every day to enable a safe, sustainable and healthy future for all people and communities.
About Orna Therapeutics
Orna Therapeutics was founded on groundbreaking research by Alex Wesselhoeft, Ph.D., and Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D. from MIT and built by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, an investment management affiliate of MPM. Orna’s proprietary circular RNA (oRNA) is engineered as linear RNA that self-circularizes. By taking a line and turning it into a circle, oRNA exhibits numerous advantages over traditional linear mRNA therapies such as simplified production, increased protein expression, and a superior immunogenicity profile. With proprietary lipid nanoparticles including those from Orna’s joint venture with ReNAgade Therapeutics, an RNA delivery company, our technologies expand the possibilities of what RNA therapeutics can achieve.
Be Bio | May 20, 2022
Be Biopharma, Inc. (“Be Bio”) and National Resilience, Inc. (Resilience) today announced a strategic collaboration to advance initial programs in Be Bio’s rare disease pipeline. Be Bio’s proprietary engineered B Cell Medicines (BeCM) platform is harnessing the power of the human B cell to create a new class of autologous and allogeneic cellular medicines that durably and redosably produce therapeutic proteins in vivo without toxic pre-conditioning.
The two companies are investing to drive innovation and reliability in cell therapy manufacturing, a critical success factor for broad and meaningful patient impact. As part of this unique partnership, Resilience will dedicate personnel solely to produce and supply Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)-grade viral vector and cell therapy drug product for the initial programs in Be Bio’s rare disease pipeline. Through a creative cost and risk-sharing model, Resilience will be responsible for manufacturing costs and receive potential future milestones and royalties.
Over the past year, Be Bio has built a strong foundation with our BeCM platform, pipeline, team, and recent $130 million financing. Manufacturing is critical to rapidly progress our BeCMs to the clinic and we have built non-GMP manufacturing capabilities in our Cambridge facility. This deal allows us to drive GMP manufacturing with an outstanding partner, and in a capital efficient manner, Resilience’s broad manufacturing capabilities, strong collaborative spirit and dedicated resources to our platform, make them an ideal partner for our BeCM programs.”
Joanne Smith-Farrell, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer at Be Bio.
Resilience will lead clinical GMP manufacturing of both the viral vector and the cell therapy drug product for Be Bio’s initial rare disease programs to support first-in-human clinical trials. Resilience will apply its pioneering bioprocessing solutions and network of cell therapy sites, including facilities in Research Triangle Park, NC, Philadelphia, PA, Waltham, MA and Marlborough, MA to conduct the work.
This collaboration shows our excitement for the promising science of Be Bio’s proprietary BeCM platforms, and our confidence in their expertise to deliver transformative cell therapies, By working alongside Be Bio early in the drug development process, we aim to accelerate the development of their B cell medicines with the potential to unlock a pipeline of product candidates across a variety of serious diseases.”
Rahul Singhvi, Sc.D., Chief Executive Officer of Resilience.
About B Cells – A New Class of Cellular Medicines
Imagine what could “Be?” In nature, a single B cell engrafts in the bone marrow and can produce thousands of proteins per second at constant levels over decades. B cells are nature’s exquisite medicine factories, manufacturing proteins to fight disease and maintain health. Unleashing the power of B cells is driving a new class of cellular medicines – Engineered B Cell Medicines (BeCM). BeCMs have the potential to be durable, allogeneic, redosable and administered without toxic conditioning. The promise of BeCMs could transform therapeutic biologics with broad application — across protein classes, patient populations and therapeutic areas.
About Be Biopharma
Be Biopharma (“Be Bio”) is pioneering Engineered B Cell Medicines (BeCM) to dramatically improve patients’ lives who are living with cancer, rare diseases and other serious conditions. With eyes locked on the patient, our team of purpose-driven scientists, technologists, manufacturing experts and business builders collaborate to create a bold new class of cell therapies. Be Bio was founded in October 2020 by Longwood Fund and B cell engineering pioneers David Rawlings, M.D., and Richard James, Ph.D. from Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Be Bio is backed by ARCH Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, RA Capital Management, Alta Partners, Longwood Fund, Bristol Myers Squibb and Takeda Ventures. Since our founding, Be Bio’s investors have committed over $180 million to enable the Company to re-imagine medicine based on the power of B cell therapy.
Resilience is a technology-focused biomanufacturing company dedicated to broadening access to complex medicines. Founded in 2020, the company is building a sustainable network of high-tech, end-to-end manufacturing solutions to ensure the treatments of today and tomorrow can be made quickly, safely, and at scale. Resilience seeks to free its partners to focus on the discoveries that improve patients’ lives by continuously advancing the science of biopharmaceutical manufacturing and development.