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British biopharmaceutical firm acquires Johns Hopkins spinout Avidea Technologies

A British biopharmaceutical company and vaccine maker has acquired Avidea Technologies, a biotechnology tenant in Johns Hopkins University’s FastForward incubation program, for $40 million.

Oxford-based Vaccitech plc, which develops novel immunotherapies and vaccines, announced that it is paying $12.5 million in cash and $27.5 million in Vaccitech American depository shares to acquire Avidea, which develops T cell immunotherapies to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. T cells, part of the immune system, help protect the body from infection.

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The privately held Avidea has developed products based on immunotherapy platforms SNAPvax and Syntholytic, which will enter clinical testing in the next two years. The SNAPvax platform can induce T cells to treat cancer and chronic infections or autoimmunity and allergies.

Merging the firms will help “accelerate the development of promising immunotherapy product candidates to patients who need them,” said Geoffrey Lynn, co-founder and CEO of Avidea, in Monday’s announcement.

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With the help of Avidea’s technology, Vaccitech plans to expand into therapies for allergies and autoimmune diseases, each with significant market potential, the company said.

Avidea’s technologies complement the British company’s platforms and “create a powerful opportunity to accelerate the development of novel product candidates for exciting new disease areas,” Vaccitech CEO Bill Enright said in an announcement.

Avidea, founded in 2016, draws on its founders’ research at Hopkins, the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Oxford.

Lynn and Avidea co-founder Andrew Ishizuka will join Vaccitech to continue to lead development of SNAPvax product candidates and expand Vaccitech’s U.S. operations.

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