United Therapeutics looks to hog bioengineered organ R&D with $91M Miromatrix buy

United Therapeutics aims to expand its portfolio of organ manufacturing platforms with the $91 million purchase of xenotransplant developer Miromatrix Medical.

The deal shakes out to a price of $3.25 per share, for what the companies described as about a 170% premium over Miromatrix’s previous trading value when averaged over 30 days. Before the acquisition was announced, Miromatrix stock had been trading just north of $1. 

The Minnesota-based company—with its bioengineered organ research once backed by renal care companies such as Baxter and DaVita, among others—had gone public in mid-2021 through a $43 million Nasdaq IPO priced at $9 per share.

United Therapeutics’ offer also includes an additional $1.75 per share in cash if it can check off a clinical study milestone for Miromatrix’s mirokidney implant by the end of 2025. The two companies said they plan to close the deal before the new year.

“At United Therapeutics, we are determined to rectify the severe shortage of transplantable organs,” CEO Martine Rothblatt said in a statement. “We expect that Miromatrix will help us in this mission, bringing a number of new approaches, highly-skilled personnel, and state of the art facilities as additional shots on goal to complement our existing organ manufacturing programs.”

Miromatrix’s mirokidney aims to provide patients with end-stage renal disease an alternative to waiting on a long list for donated organs. 

Starting with tissue from pigs, the company removes the porcine cells while retaining the harvested organs’ supporting structures, such as its blood vessels. This architecture is then seeded with functional human cells, in what the company describes as a “decell/recell process,” with the goal of providing a bioengineered, ready-to-transplant organ with improvements in function and a lower risk of rejection.

Miromatrix has also taken the same approach to liver transplants and has had plans to explore the use of patient-derived stem cells in the organ construction process.

United Therapeutics, meanwhile, has been working to transform pig organs into human-compatible transplants through DNA engineering—including eliminating genes that produce cellular compounds that can trigger immediate rejection by the human body.

Last month, the company’s Revivicor subsidiary demonstrated that its transplant combining a kidney and thymus gland could function within the body for at least two months. The xenokidney was placed within a 58-year-old man on a ventilator after being declared brain-dead, with his family’s consent.

United Therapeutics also announced the completion of its second xenoheart transplant in a living man with heart failure who was deemed ineligible for a traditional donor heart. Revivicor said it plans to start full clinical studies in 2025.

The company’s organ manufacturing efforts include a total of seven programs: xenoheart, xenokidney and xenothymokidney as well as regenerative lungs and 3D-printed lungs, livers and kidneys.