Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical firm based in the United States, has announced plans to buy Oxford University biotech spinout MiroBio for $405M in cash. MiroBio’s discovery technology and portfolio of immune inhibitory receptor agonists will be acquired by Gilead.
The acquisition will be completed once the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act expires or is terminated, as well as several other criteria.
MiroBio is a clinical-stage startup focused on creating medicines to “establish immunological balance” in autoimmune patients, which occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. The company was spun out of Oxford University in 2019, spearheaded by Professor Simon Davis and Professor Richard Cornall, and has since raised $130M in venture funding, including a $97M tranche in June from a slew of backers, including Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE), an investment firm that has backed more than 100 Oxford University spinouts since its inception in 2015.
MiroBio’s flagship experimental antibody, MB272, is a B- and T-Lymphocyte Attenuator (BTLA) agonist with a selective immune suppressive receptor.
It is currently in Phase I clinical studies, with the first person having recently received a dose.
The antibody inhibits or dulls activation of T, B, and dendritic cells, thereby controlling an inflammatory immune response.
Gilead, which began as Oligogen in 1987, develops antiviral medications for the treatment of Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, influenza, and, more recently, COVID-19. The company upped its sales projection this week due to anticipated demand for its COVID-19 medicine Veklury, which was approved by the FDA earlier this year.
“The team at MiroBio has spearheaded foundational research for agonist antibodies following a rigorous scientific approach,” said Flavius Martin, Executive Vice President, Research, Gilead Sciences. “We believe that MiroBio’s unique platform technology has the potential to produce best-in-class agonist antibodies targeting immune inhibitory receptors.”
“We are excited to be joining Gilead,” said Eliot Charles, Chairman of MiroBio. “MiroBio has a deep understanding of checkpoint receptor signaling and a proprietary approach to select and generate superior agonist antibodies. Combining this with Gilead’s drug development and therapeutic area expertise will allow us to fully explore the potential of checkpoint agonist antibodies for patients with autoimmune disease.”
Terms of the deal
Under the terms of the deal, Gilead will acquire all of MiroBio’s existing share capital for a total cash consideration of $405M, subject to normal adjustments, payable at completion. Gilead will no longer deduct acquired IPR&D spending from its non-GAAP financial measures beginning in the first quarter of 2022, in accordance with recent industry messages from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Oxford University and its neighbouring Cambridge University have long been magnets for venture capital and mergers and acquisitions activity. Google acquired DeepMind, an AI-focused Cambridge spinoff, in 2014, and later that year acquired two AI-focused teams from Oxford.
DeepReason, an Oxford University spinoff, has lately emerged. Meltwater purchased AI for $7.3M back in November.