Cell therapy startup Immusoft lands deal with Takeda worth potentially more than $900M


Immusoft CEO Sean Ainsworth. (Immusoft Photo)

Seattle-based cell therapy startup Immusoft will collaborate with pharma giant Takeda to develop treatments targeted to the central nervous system in a deal worth potentially more than $900 million.

Immusoft’s technology involves engineering a patient’s B cells to mass produce therapeutic proteins. These immune cells are good at pumping out large amounts of proteins, such as an enzyme missing in a particular condition.

“This advances our leadership position in B cells as biofactories for therapeutic protein delivery,” said Immusoft CEO Sean Ainsworth in a statement.

The new partnership will focus on delivering protein therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier to treat rare neurometabolic conditions. Under the agreement, Takeda has options to exclusively license programs at the preclinical stage and will take products to the clinic and through commercialization. Immusoft will receive research funding support and an undisclosed upfront payment, with total value of option fees and milestone payments of potentially more than $900 million.

Immusoft’s most advanced therapeutic program is designed to treat a rare enzyme deficiency disorder, Hurler syndrome. The company aims to file an investigational new drug application for the condition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year, according to its website, a key step toward a clinical trial.

Ainsworth, a veteran biotech exec, has led the company since 2018 when he replaced Matthew Scholz, who founded the company in 2009 and is now CEO of Oisín Biotechnologies. Ainsworth previously founded gene therapy company RetroSense Therapeutics, which sold to Allergan in 2016 in a deal worth up to $555 million.

Immusoft closed a $33 million Series B round last year, noted FierceBiotech.

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