Merck & Co and Vertex Ventures are among the investors set to exit antibody drug developer Visterra after Otsuka Pharmaceutical agreed to buy the company for $430m.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical, the pharmaceutical subsidiary of healthcare and nutrition group Otsuka Holdings, agreed this week to acquire US-based antibody developer Visterra for $430m, allowing drug producer Merck & Co to exit.
Visterra is developing precision antibody-based therapeutics designed to modulate disease targets not currently treatable by other antibody-based drugs.
The candidates are based on the company’s Hierotope platform, and its pipeline includes prospective treatments for kidney diseases including IgA nephropathy, where the immunoglobulin A antibody gets lodged in the kidneys. as well as cancer, chronic pain and infectious diseases.
Otsuka will pay for the company, which had raised about $125m in equity and debt financing, in cash and the transaction is expected to close in Q3 2018. Visterra filed for an initial public offering in early 2016 but withdrew its plans in February 2017.
Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Singaporean state investment bank Temasek, and Merck subsidiary MRL Ventures both participated in Visterra’s last round, a series C that closed at $46.7m in October 2017 with backing from drug manufacturer Serum Institute of India and Alexandria Venture Investments, part of life science real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
Polaris Partners, Flagship Ventures, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Allegheny Financial Group, Omega Funds, Cycad Group and CTI Life Sciences also contributed to the series C round.
Visterra had previously closed a $30m series B round in 2014 that included MRL Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, Vertex Venture Holdings, Temasek, Polaris Partners, Flagship Ventures, Omega Funds and Cycad Group.
Brian J. G. Pereira, Visterra’s CEO, said: “Our two companies share a common culture of creativity and innovation, and commitment to patients with kidney diseases, cancer and other hard-to-treat diseases.
“Joining forces with Otsuka will provide Visterra the resources, support and commitment to accelerate development of our pipeline and fully realise the potential of our technology platform.”
• A version of this article originally appeared on Global Corporate Venturing.