Agenus Inc. (NASDAQ: AGEN), a Lexington, MA-based immunotherapy company developing innovative treatments for cancer, acquired PhosImmune Inc., a Charlottesville, Va.-based company that has discovered an entirely new portfolio of cancer neoantigens.
Under the terms of the deal, Agenus paid PhosImmune’s shareholders an upfront payment of $2.5m in cash and $7.4m in shares of Agenus common stock at closing.
Additional payments of up to $35m in cash and/or stock at Agenus’ election are payable upon the achievement of certain milestones.
The acquisition provides Agenus the ability to accelerate the development of new cancer vaccines and other single agent immuno-oncology approaches, as well as combination therapies.
Co-founded by Donald Hunt, Ph.D. and Vic Engelhard, Ph.D., both of University of Virginia, and Mark Cobbold, M.D., Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, PhosImmune has developed phosphopeptide tumor targets (PTTs), which are fragments of proteins expressed in cancer cells. These fragments are phosphorylated due to signal dysregulation involved in the development of cancers and, as a result, appear as foreign to the immune system.
The approach is synergistic with Agenus’ AutoSynVax™ vaccine program for targeting patient-specific tumor neoantigens. PTTs can expand AutoSynVax and other immunotherapeutic approaches to include patients with lower levels of mutations that may not have enough neoantigens to activate the immune system effectively. PTTs can also be shared by patients with specific cancers.
Led by Dr. Garo H. Armen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Robert B. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Head of R&D, Agenus is an immunotherapy company focused on the discovery and development of new treatments that engage the body’s immune system to treat patients suffering from cancer and other diseases.
The company is building a broad portfolio of novel checkpoint modulators, vaccines and adjuvants to treat cancer and other diseases.