Cancer Cell Therapy M&A

by Jan 18, 2020Analysis, M&A

Over the last three years, there have been eight cancer cell therapy M&A deals for advanced first generation and next gen cancer cell therapy companies. Six of them have been completed to date. Data for this analysis was compiled using the DealForma biopharma deals database. We applied initial filters for mergers and acquisitions of companies developing cell therapies for cancer and excluded terminated acquisition offers. From there, we exported the data to Excel, segmented the list by whether the target company’s cell therapy would be considered first generation or next gen, and used pivot tables and charts to do the rest. All data are based on publicly disclosed figures. We invite you to answer interesting questions on biopharma business development and licensing using our data and carefully curated profiles on deals, pipelines, companies, funding, and business executives by visiting to schedule your personalized demo.

As the 38th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference approached, we used the DealForma deals database to evaluate the recent M&A activity in the cancer cell therapy space. With Yescarta axicabtagene ciloleucel and Kymriah tisagenlecleucel‎ now on the market for two years, cell immunotherapies are one of the newest forms of treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer. We identified eight total cancer cell therapy-focused acquisitions announced in the last three years, six of which have been completed and are highlighted below in order based on deal value. Included in the broader cell therapy analysis that follows were M&A’s, reverse mergers, exercised acquisition options and partnerships with an acquisition option. Terminated acquisition offers were excluded, and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $74 billion acquisition of Celgene was charted separately.


Gilead Sciences acquired Kite Pharma

  • Date Announced: August 28, 2017
  • Total Deal Value: $11.9 billion
  • Target Stage at Acquisition: Phase III
  • Main Asset at Acquisition: Yescarta (chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T therapy)


Celgene acquired Juno Therapeutics

  • Date Announced: January 22, 2018
  • Total Deal Value: $9 billion
  • Target Stage at Acquisition: Phase II
  • Main Asset at Acquisition: JCAR017 (lisocabtagene maraleucel; liso-cel) – CAR-T therapy


Astellas Pharma acquired Xyphos Biosciences

  • Date Announced: December 26, 2019
  • Total Deal Value: $665 million
  • Target Stage at Acquisition: Preclinical/IND
  • Main Asset at Acquisition: “convertibleCAR-T” cell product, ACCEL (Advanced Cellular Control through Engineered Ligands) technology platform


Gilead, Kite acquired Cell Design Labs

  • Date Announced: December 7, 2017
  • Total Deal Value: $567 million
  • Target Stage at Acquisition: Platform/Discovery
  • Main Asset at Acquisition: synNotch and Throttle technology platforms for CAR-T cells


Astellas acquired Universal Cells

  • Date Announced: February 13, 2018
  • Total Deal Value: $102.5 million
  • Target Stage at Acquisition: Preclinical/IND
  • Main Asset at Acquisition: Universal Donor Stem Cell technology


Kiadis acquired CytoSen Therapeutics

  • Date Announced: April 17, 2019
  • Total Deal Value: Not Disclosed
  • Target Stage at Acquisition: Phase III
  • Main Asset at Acquisition: ATIR101 (Allodepleted T-cell immunotherapy, discontinued development as of November 2019); CSDT002-NK (natural killer-cell therapy)


Two M&A option deals that are yet to be exercised are Kite’s research partnership and an option to acquire Gadeta, and Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ (Takeda Oncology) research partnership and option to acquire GammaDelta Therapeutics.

Using DealForma’s deals database, we also evaluated M&A trends over the past decade of companies developing first and next generation cell therapy, gene therapy, other immuno-oncology therapies, and small molecules for cancer.

Finally, we compared the macro-trends of cancer immunotherapy/cell therapy M&A field with other technology fields including small molecules, diagnostics and gene therapy/vectors.


Licensing Deals


Funding Rounds




Company Profiles


Other Deals


Drug Sales Figures

All of this by stage, disease indication, modality, target...

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