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AstraZeneca to buy Calif. cancer firm for up to $1.2B

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AstraZeneca will acquire a promising lymphoma candidate in a deal worth up to $1.2 billion. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – Seeking to supercharge its cancer drug pipeline, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced a deal potentially worth more than $1.2 billion to acquire a small California-based biotech firm working on lymphoma treatment.

AstraZeneca, which has its U.S. headquarters in the Wilmington suburbs, would acquire TeneoTwo, which is testing its drug TNB-486 in relapsed and refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients.

TeneoTwo was spun off from biotech firm Teneobio as a part of a $900 million acquisition by pharmaceutical giant Amgen.

AstraZeneca aims to build on the success of its leukemia drug, Calquence, which produced sales of more than $1 billion last year, officials said. The addition of TNB-486 would add another potential drug to its lineup of treatments for blood cancers.

Anas Younes, AstraZeneca’s senior vice president for hematology R&D, explained that the TeneoTwo drug redirects the body’s natural immune response to target B-cell malignancies, binding to both the helpful and harmful cells to link them. It could be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to improve patient outcomes.

“We believe this innovative molecule, which was designed to optimize the therapeutic window of T-cell activation, will enable us to explore novel combinations that have the potential to become new standards of care in this setting,” he said.

The acquisition of TNB-486 could prove to be a challenger to Amgen’s drug Blincyto, which is also a T-cell engaging antibody, according to FierceBiotech, a blog that covers the pharmaceutical industry.

The deal marks one of the first major acquisitions for the British-Swiss company since it acquired Caelum Biosciences, a small clinical-stage biotechnology company, for $150 million in October. The New Jersey-based Caelum was founded by New York-based biopharma company Fortress Biotech in 2017 to develop a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of light-chain (AL) amyloidosis, a rare abnormal protein disease.

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