Astellas Pharma Inc. (“Astellas”; TSE 4503, headquarters: Tokyo; President and CEO Yoshihiko Hatanaka) and Anokion SA (“Anokion“, headquarters: Lausanne; Chairman Jeffrey A. Hubbell) today announced an agreement to collaborate in the fields of type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. 

Key components of the agreement include:

  • A new company, Kanyos Bio, Inc. (“Kanyos”, location: Cambridge, MA), has been created to develop clinical candidates in the two selected indications, with an option for Astellas to add a third autoimmune indication as part of the collaboration. 
  • Astellas will provide non-dilutive research funding to Kanyos and holds an option to acquire Kanyos after reaching certain milestones.
  • Total potential deal value of about $760 Million includes R&D funding, option exercise and milestone payments.  
  • Astellas will also participate, along with Anokion’s existing investors, in a $16 Million equity financing for Kanyos.

Anokion is a biotechnology company developing products based on proprietary technology for the induction of antigen-specific immune tolerance.  The technology targets antigens to the surfaces of red blood cells in vivo; as the cells circulate, age and are cleared, the associated antigens are processed using the immune system’s natural mechanisms to prevent autoimmunity. Anokion’s technology has demonstrated the ability to induce immune tolerance to protein drugs and to autoimmune antigens in animal models. The creation of Kanyos will enable preclinical development of products for type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

“We are delighted that our partner Astellas is applying its resources and pharmaceutical development expertise to Anokion’s platform technology and immunology expertise, through our new company Kanyos,” said Jeffrey A. Hubbell, Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, Professor of Bioengineering at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and the academic founder, Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of both Anokion and Kanyos. “Our combined team has an opportunity to make a profound impact on patients’ lives.”

“I am pleased to enter into this agreement with Anokion, under which we will be developing unique and innovative products for antigen-specific immune tolerance” said Kenji Yasukawa, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Astellas. “This collaboration is the newest piece of Astellas’ strategy in immunology. Our goal is to provide innovative pharmaceutical products for type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, both of which represent significant unmet medical needs. In addition to the above mentioned initial targets, it is considered that the technology can be applied to other autoimmune diseases.  In this sense, there is meaningful potential for future growth.”

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