Sangamo Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SGMO) and TxCell announced this morning that they have entered into a definitive agreement on July 20, 2018 pursuant to which Sangamo will, following the completion of the contemplated acquisition of a majority stake of TxCell, file a simplified cash tender offer for the purchase of all then outstanding ordinary shares of TxCell, at a price of €2.58 per share in cash, or approximately €72 million, on a debt-free and cash-free basis. Subject to satisfaction of closing conditions (including in particular those relating to regulations governing foreign investments in France), Sangamo expects to complete the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2018.
With its highly skilled and experienced team, TxCell is a leader in the emerging field of regulatory T cell (Treg) development for immunological diseases, one of Sangamo’s stated therapeutic areas of focus for its proprietary product candidate pipeline. Tregs are a naturally occurring subset of T cells and are critical for maintaining immune homeostasis within the body by induction and maintenance of tolerance to self-antigens.
Sangamo intends to evaluate the potential of CAR-Treg (Tregs genetically modified with a chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR) therapies to prevent graft rejection in solid organ transplant and for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Preclinical research provides proof of concept that antigen specific CAR-Tregs can deliver potent immunosuppression locally to targeted tissues. By contrast, currently available anti-TNF alpha small molecule and monoclonal antibody drugs are associated with global, non-specific immune suppression.
Sangamo expects that the proposed acquisition of TxCell would accelerate the Company’s entry into the clinic with a CAR-Treg therapy. In 2019, Sangamo expects to submit a clinical trial authorization application in Europe for TxCell’s first CAR-Treg investigational product candidate for solid organ transplant, and to initiate a Phase 1/2 clinical trial later in the year. In addition, Sangamo intends to use its zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) gene editing technology to develop next-generation autologous and allogeneic CAR-Treg cell therapies for use in treating autoimmune diseases.
“We are thrilled to announce this proposed acquisition which would combine TxCell’s Treg expertise with our ex vivo gene editing capabilities, positioning Sangamo as a leader in the emerging field of CAR-Treg cell therapy,” said Sandy Macrae, CEO of Sangamo. “We believe CAR-Treg therapies will prove to be as exciting for immunology as CAR-T has been for oncology.”
“We are excited to combine with Sangamo for their experience and technical expertise in gene-edited cell therapy, and we believe Sangamo’s ZFN editing technology will facilitate the precise genetic modifications needed to create a new class of Treg-based antigen and tissue specific immunosuppressive medicines,” said Stephane Boissel, CEO of TxCell. “Progressing such CAR-Treg products in clinical development and towards commercialization would require expertise and financial resources that were impossible for us to get as a stand-alone business at a reasonable cost.”
Most analysts on Wall Streets are out rooting for this drug maker to be a winning stock pick, as TipRanks analytics showcase SGMO as a Buy. Based on 6 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 5 rate a Buy on Sangamo stock while only 1 maintains a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $27.60, marking a nearly 80% upside from where the stock is currently trading.