AstraZeneca and Neogene hope to retain local jobs.
Santa Monica further cemented its status as a biotech hub and pioneer in cancer treatment this week with the announcement that multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca will acquire Santa Monica-headquartered Neogene Therapeutics for $320 million.
Neogene chose Santa Monica as the location for its US headquarters in July 2021. At the time, COO Brent Pfeiffenberger said Neogene was attracted by the area’s existing talent pool, presence of other biotech companies and manufacturing facilities.
He said the company plans to remain in Santa Monica following the acquisition by AstraZeneca which is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2023. Neogene will receive $200 million upon closing the deal and the additional $120 million later contingent upon the company meeting certain milestones.
“Upon closing we’ll be a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca with continued operations in both Amsterdam and Santa Monica here, which we’re really excited about,” Pfeiffenberger said.
Neogene was founded in Amsterdam in 2018 with a mission of developing cell therapies to treat cancer. Cell therapy is a relatively new approach to fighting the disease and involves injecting genetically engineered cells into patients to generate a medicinal effect. Neogene focuses specifically on the use of engineered T cell receptor (TCR) therapies to target tumors. Pfeiffenberger said the acquisition will allow the company to take their work to the next level.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to continue what we’ve been building along the way and we continue to keep our focus on discovering, developing and manufacturing next generation TCR therapies with the support of an amazing company like AstraZeneca, who’s got an incredible set of resources, capabilities, and really strong partnerships to help us accelerate that,” he said.
Pfeiffenberger stressed that the company plans to retain its employees following the acquisition and continue to develop and grow its operations in Santa Monica.
“Retaining our employees is an important element to this proposed transaction for both Neogene and for AstraZeneca,” he said. “We’re committed to make sure we’ve got the right teams in place to improve on the ambition we’ve got and we expect post closing, with this partnership, that we will continue to see growth with our business and our employees here in Santa Monica as well.”
The deal reflects AstraZeneca’s increasing interest in cell therapy as a form of cancer treatment.
“This acquisition represents a unique opportunity to bring innovative science and leading experts in T-cell receptor biology and cell therapy manufacturing together with our internal oncology cell therapy team, unlocking new ways to target cancer,” Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca Susan Galbraith said in a press release. “Neogene’s leading TCR discovery capabilities and extensive manufacturing experience complement the cell therapy capability we have built over the last three years and allow us to accelerate the development of potentially curative cell therapies for the benefit of patients.”