Abgenix Acquires Hesed to Expand Antibody Research

The company buys Hesed, which is working on new types of monoclonal antibodies.
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Biotech firm

Abgenix

(ABGX)

said late Tuesday it is acquiring a privately held firm that is trying to develop a better-performing monoclonal antibody.

The deal to purchase Hesed Biomed Inc. is valued at about $19.2 million, based on Abgenix's closing price of $31.11 per share. Abgenix will issue 540,000 shares of common stock and pay about $360,000 in cash. The company will also assume about $2 million of Hesed's debt.

Hesed is a developer of an emerging technology that aims to create a new class of drugs called catalytic antibodies. Simply put, these act like super-charged monoclonal antibodies that not only permanently inactivate a disease-promoting target on a cell, but they do it repeatedly as the drug works its way through the body.

Existing monoclonal antibodies are only capable of binding to, and temporarily inactivating, a single disease target. The drugs work by targeting a single chemical site on a disease cell.

The development of catalytic antibodies, however, is still very much in its infancy -- more scientific theory than anything else right now. There are no catalytic antibodies in human clinical trials at this point.

But for Abgenix, the purchase of Hesed allows the company to broaden its portfolio of antibody-creating technologies. Abgenix is best known for its XenoMouse technology, which uses bioengineered mice to generate human antibodies used to develop antibody drugs for a host of different diseases.

"The acquisition of Hesed provides Abgenix with a new class of therapeutic antibodies to build a large and diversified portfolio of new and important antibody treatments for serious diseases," said Abgenix CEO R. Scott Greer, in a statement.