Athenex Inc (NASDAQ: ATNX) stock is screaming for the top in the market this morning, trading on gains of more than 40% early on. The gains come after the company announced acquisition news. Here’s what’s going on:
ATNX Stock Climbs On Acquisition News
In the press release, Athenex said that it has acquired Kurr Therapeutics, a leading developer of off-the-shelf CAR-NKT cell immunotherapies for the treatment of solid and hematological malignancies.
According to the terms of the agreement, Athenex will make an upfront payment of $70 million to Kuur shareholders and certain of its former employees and directors. The vast majority of the payment will be made via shares of ATNX common stock.
The agreement also stipulates that Kuur shareholders will receive up to $115 million in milestone payments, which will be paid in either cash or additional Athenex shares, or a mix of the two upon the achievement of such milestones.
Through the acquisition, Athenex will gain access to multiple assets under development, all of which are designed to target some of the world’s most significant and difficult to treat cancers.
In a statement, Dr. Johnson Lau, CEO at ATNX, had the following to offer:
We are excited to add Kuur Therapeutics and its innovative allogeneic CAR-NKT technology to the Athenex platform. Kuur’s innovative technology, combined with our TCR program, could propel us into a leadership position in cell therapy. This platform also has the potential to provide synergies with other assets in our pipeline.
The above statement was followed up by Dr. Dan Lang, President of Athenex Cell Therapy. Here’s what he had to offer:
We are thrilled to combine our TCR program with the groundbreaking NKT cell platform developed by Professor Leonid Metelitsa at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. We are confident that we can continue to innovate on the NKT cell platform with Dr. Metelitsa to provide a solution that may address some of the known limitations associated with the first generation of cell therapy treatments focused on autologous CAR-T. We aspire to convert cancer into a chronic disease.
Finally, Kevin S. Boyle, Sr., CEO at Kuur, had the following to offer:
CAR-NKT cells offer a distinct set of advantages over other immune effector cells commonly used for cell therapy. We are excited that the leadership at Athenex recognizes the significant potential of this approach to provide effective treatment options for patients with both solid and hematological tumors. The development of these innovative therapies will be accelerated by combining Kuur’s experienced team with the extensive resources of Athenex.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is simple. The news released this morning by Athenex is overwhelmingly positive. Through the acquisition, the company will add several assets to its pipeline, all of which are targeting high-value indications. As a result, there are several new catalysts being added to the fray, making ATNX stock one to watch closely.