Catalent bets on armed antibodies with Redwood buyout

In its first acquisition since going public over the summer, Catalent ($CTLT) has bought up longtime partner Redwood Bioscience, bringing in proprietary technology for developing antibody-drug conjugates.

The deal centers on Redwood's SMARTag platform for crafting ADCs, cancer-fighting therapeutics that fuse an antibody to a tumor-killing payload to create a targeted therapy. Catalent already had an exclusive license to the technology and held a stake in Redwood, but buying its partner en masse fits with its broad strategy of expanding in biologics, the company said.

Under the agreement, Redwood founder David Rabuka will join Catalent's management ranks to further develop SMARTag and assist in the company's ongoing push in biologics R&D, which includes the GPEx cell line expression platform and a new biomanufacturing operation in Wisconsin.

And, in acquiring Redwood, Catalent is adding more than just a me-too technology in ADCs, President of Advanced Delivery Technologies Barry Littlejohns said.

"In vivo toxicology studies have demonstrated that an ADC generated using the SMARTag platform has a better toxicity profile than a conventional ADC, and with efficacy studies, point to an improved therapeutic index," Littlejohns said in a statement. "This acquisition builds on our recent investment in a state-of-the-art biomanufacturing facility and underpins our strategy of investing in innovative technologies and differentiated solutions in the biologics space."

As it stands, Catalent derives the majority of its revenue from designing and manufacturing capsules for small-molecule treatments. In the fiscal year ended June 30, the company grew revenue 2% to $1.8 billion, as a 12% jump in its medication delivery segment made up for a 1% dip in its banner oral technologies segment, which brought in $1.2 billion.

- read the statement