Sangamo rescues Txcell

Take a wannabe cell therapy player with considerable genome-editing expertise, pair it up with a cash-strapped pioneer in a hot new area of research, and a deal is bound to materialise. Step forward Sangamo, the zinc finger nuclease expert, which today bought France’s Txcell for €72m ($84m). Txcell’s unique selling point was CAR-Treg therapy: this is closely related to CAR-T, but thanks to the use of T regulatory cells it damps down rather than stimulates immune response, and thus targets autoimmune disease, not cancer. The Sangamo deal is the latest of several with a Treg focus, and such a pioneering approach might have been expected to yield Txcell’s investors more than €72m. In reality, however, this is probably the best they could have hoped for: Txcell has spent much of the past few years unwinding a deeply unprofitable Ferring deal, developing a manufacturing system and tidying up its capital structure. After generating promising early results with unmodified Tregs in Crohn’s disease Txcell vowed to become the first company to start a clinical trial of a CAR-Treg – an anti-HLA-A2 asset for use in organ transplantation. This task now falls to Sangamo.

Recent financing for approaches based on T regulatory (Treg) cells
Date Buyer Target Deal type Treg focus
Jul 2018 Sangamo Txcell $84m takeover Anti-HLA-A2 CAR-Treg therapy
Apr 2018 (Equity raise) Tmunity  $135m series A Unspecified Treg assets
Sep 2017 Casebia Therapeutics Memorial Sloan-Kettering Undisclosed licensing deal Crispr/Cas9-edited Tregs
Jul 2017 Lilly Nektar $150m licensing deal NKTR-358, works by stimulating proliferation of Tregs
May 2017 Servier Iltoo Pharma $9m option ILT-101, low-dose IL-2 to stimulate Tregs
Apr 2017 Novartis Parvus Undisclosed licensing deal Nanoparticles that stimulate Treg expansion
Jan 2017 Celgene Delinia $300m licensing deal DEL106, IL-2 mutein Fc fusion protein that upregulates Tregs
Sep 2016 (Equity raise) Caladrius Biosciences $21m CLBS03, autologous expanded Tregs
Sep 2016 (Company formation) Cellenkos $10m initial financing Umbilical cord-derived Tregs
Source: company filings.

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