Astellas to acquire iota Biosciences following R&D partnership

Japanese pharma Astellas will acquire bioelectronics firm iota after announcing a research and development agreement last year.

In 2019, Astellas and iota entered a R&D agreement to jointly research and carry out development activities associated with iota’s ultrasonic-powered bioelectronic devices in a number of indications.

During this R&D agreement, the companies evaluated detailed specifications for implantable medical devices for multiple diseases with high unmet medical needs.

Following Astellas’ acquisition of iota, Astellas will acquire the firm’s bioelectronics technology and use it to accelerate its own projects in this area.

Iota was founded by Michel Maharbiz and Jose Carmena in 2017 – its technology uses ultrasound to power the devices and enable wireless communication.

This resulted in the ability to develop ultra-small battery free, wireless implantable medical devices. Standard implantable medical devices require batteries for power supply and wires or large electronic circuits to enable communications.

This makes it difficult to reduce the size of medical devices and often resulted in invasive implant procedures.

Iota’s devices offer an alternative option, wherein the bioelectronic devices can be implanted through less invasive operative procedures and reduce physical burden for patients during and after surgery.

“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, iota.

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

Under the acquisition agreement, Astellas will make an initial payment of $127.5m to acquire all of the outstanding equity in iota not already held by Astellas.

In addition, iota’s shareholders will be eligible to receive further payments of up to a total of approximately $176.5m dependent on predetermined milestones hit within certain timeframes.

Astellas has also commit to spending a total of $125m over the next five years to aid the expansion of iota.

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