Osaka, Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical’s wholly-owned subsidiary Takeda America Holdings will acquire LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals of Bozeman, Mont., for an upfront payment of $60 million, with future contingent consideration based on the progress of development projects.
LigoCyte is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company specializing in innovative vaccine products. Its lead product, a vaccine to prevent norovirus gastroenteritis, is in phase I/II clinical development.
"Takeda's acquisition of LigoCyte is a major step forward in the expansion of Takeda's vaccine business, and a demonstration of Takeda's dedication to preventing illness in children and adults around the world," said Rajeev Venkayya, M.D., executive vice president of Takeda's Vaccine Business Division (VBD), launched in January 2012. "Norovirus is the most common cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis and foodborne illness in the U.S., and is responsible for 200,000 deaths each year, most of them in developing countries. With the only norovirus vaccine in clinical trials today, Takeda will be in a position to change this picture."
LigoCyte is focused on developing innovative vaccine products based on its proprietary virus-like particle platform (VLP) technology. LigoCyte's lead product, the norovirus vaccine, uses VLP technology which enables the production of vaccines designed to cover multiple genetic varieties (or "strains") of norovirus. The vaccine candidate has been shown to confer protection in an initial human challenge trial. Approval for the vaccine will be sought in the U.S., Europe and other countries based on disease burden.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus infects 21 million people in the U.S. each year.
LigoCyte also has initiated preclinical development of vaccines against respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and rotavirus.
"LigoCyte is pleased to become a part of a leading research-based global pharmaceutical company with a commitment to vaccines and the resources to develop our pipeline," said Donald P. Beeman, CEO and member of the LigoCyte board of directors. "Together, we believe we have the right combination of expertise and dedication to bring our norovirus vaccine to market."
Takeda will continue operating LigoCyte in Bozeman, Mont., for the foreseeable future and intends to retain the management team and its employees. Once the acquisition is complete, Beeman and his management team will become part of Takeda's Vaccine Business Division. The deal is expected to close in the next several weeks.
Takeda expects the acquisition of LigoCyte will advance Takeda's presence in the global vaccine market, demonstrate its commitment to global public health, expand its development pipeline and R&D capacity and position it to bring a "first-in-class" vaccine for an unmet health need to populations around the world.