AstraZeneca has concluded its acquisition of China-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Gracell Biotechnologies for $1.2bn.

The acquisition, initially agreed in December 2023, positions Gracell as a wholly owned AstraZeneca subsidiary with operations continuing in the US and China.

AstraZeneca will acquire all of Gracell’s fully diluted share capital, including that represented by American depositary shares, through a merger for $2 per ordinary share in cash.

This is in addition to a non-tradable contingent value right of $0.3 per ordinary share payable upon achievement of a specified regulatory milestone.

The upfront cash portion of the consideration represents a transaction value of $1.0bn.

Gracell’s integration into AstraZeneca’s operations is a strategic move to bolster the latter’s pipeline with cell therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

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AstraZeneca will gain access to GC012F, a key asset from Gracell.

Currently in the clinical stage of development, GC012F is a FasTCAR-enabled BCMA and CD19 dual-targeting autologous chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy.

Designed to drive deep and durable responses with an improved safety profile, therapy is being developed as a treatment for multiple myeloma and other haematologic malignancies and autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus.

Gracell commenced a Phase Ib/II clinical trial of GC012F to treat patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma in the US.

This month, AstraZeneca announced a $300m investment in a new facility in Rockville, Maryland. This investment is a significant step in launching its cell therapy platforms in the US, advancing critical cancer trials and preparing for future commercial supply.

The new facility is expected to create 150 skilled jobs, primarily focusing on the production of T-cell therapies to support clinical trials worldwide.

Cell & Gene Therapy coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology is supported by Cytiva.

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