Astellas to acquire iota Biosciences

Following an R&D collaboration that began last year, Japanese pharma Astellas has announced it will acquire bioelectronics firm iota in $304m deal.

Last year’s R&D agreement was to jointly research and carry out development activities associated with iota’s ultrasonic-powered bioelectronic devices, and evaluate detailed specifications for implantable medical devices for multiple diseases with high unmet medical needs.

Longevity.Technology: iota makes ultra-small medical implants, and the research aim to tackle diseases that have unmet needs caught our eye. Astellas has committed to spending $125 million over the next five years to fuel iota’s expansion and, given that iota creates devices that are powered by ultrasound and communicate wirelessly, we could see a leap forward for non-invasive Longevity therapies.

An initial payment of about $127.5m covers the remaining equity that Astellas did not acquire when it invested in iota’s series A round two years ago. Astellas has also agreed to $176.5m in development-related milestones [1].

iota’s devices – based on its “neural dust” platform – offer an alternative to invasive medical implants that require wires, battery packs and bulky electronic circuits. Non-invasive therapies often result in better outcomes for patients. iota’s technology modulates individual nerves with the aim of treating conditions such as cardiovascular disease, or arthritis. The biotech can also act as a targeted diagnostic – an impressive range of talents for something just a millimetre long.

“A new era in bioelectronic medicine is dawning and iota Biosciences, powered by Astellas, will be leading the charge.”

“The partnership between iota Biosciences and Astellas allows us to combine our respective strengths to bring revolutionary new approaches to managing and treating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people across the world,” said Michel Maharbiz, and Jose Carmena, co-founders and co-CEOs of iota. “A new era in bioelectronic medicine is dawning and iota Biosciences, powered by Astellas, will be leading the charge [2].”

“I believe that iota’s technology is a promising core technology that can be applied not only to the current programs we are working on, but to broader types of diseases that have yet to be worked on,” said Kenji Yasukawa, PhD, President and CEO of Astellas. “I expect that the combination of their capabilities with our strength cultivated through our Rx business will become a strong basis to further drive our Rx+® business [3].”

This is the second piece of good news announced for Astellas recently; earlier this week, it announced it has secured fast-track status from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop ASP0367 as a potential treatment for primary mitochondrial myopathies (PMM), after the Phase I study demonstrated an increase in the number of mitochondria in the human volunteers, as well as enhanced mitochondrial function [4].


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