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Sangamo Bags TxCell, and a Next-Gen Cell Therapy Tech, for $84M

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Sangamo Biosciences has acquired French biotech TxCell, adding an experimental technology with the potential to treat autoimmune diseases with cell therapy.

Sangamo (NASDAQ: SGMO), of Richmond, CA, will pay €72 million ($84.31 million), or $2.58 per share, for TxCell. It expects to complete the deal later this year.

The deal gives Sangamo a technology that modifies regulatory T cells, or Tregs—a type of immune cell—to try to treat immunological diseases. The cell therapies to win FDA approval thus far, known as CAR-T treatments, use a different type of T cell and target blood cancers. TxCell’s approach hasn’t yet been tested in humans, and the company didn’t have the cash to advance the technology on its own, CEO Stephane Boissel said in a statement. “[It] would require expertise and financial resources that were impossible for us to get as a stand-alone business at a reasonable cost,” Boissel said.

The company had just €4.4 million in cash at the end of June and shares closed at €0.93 apiece on Friday. Last week, TxCell said in a statement it was working on “securing a longer-term financing solution, such as a strategic partnership and/or an equity offering.”

Sangamo is best known as a gene editing company, using an unproven approach known as zinc finger nucleases to try to treat diseases like hemophilia, beta thalassemia, and HIV. But the company has been expanding its work into other disease areas as well, and is increasingly trying to use gene editing to soup up cell therapies. In February, for instance, Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) tapped Sangamo to try to use gene editing to develop next-gen CAR-T treatments for cancer. The two could produce 10 or more possible products in the alliance if all goes well.

Now Sangamo is trying a similar strategy with immunological conditions. As with its alliance with Gilead, Sangamo will use its gene editing technology alongside TxCell’s cell therapies, known as CART-Tregs, hoping to develop effective treatments for multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. The hope is these therapies might provide long-lasting effects with a single treatment. Sangamo will also test a CART-Treg treatment as an immunosuppressant following a solid organ transplant. (Here’s more on TxCell from Labiotech.eu)

Sangamo plans to begin a clinical trial in Europe next year testing CART-Tregs in organ transplant patients.

Here’s more on Sangamo, gene editing, and its marriage with other technologies.