AstraZeneca acquires China's Gracell Bio for $1.2 billion

AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) has agreed to acquire Nasdaq-listed Gracell Biotechnologies for $1.2 billion to access its cell therapy technology and pipeline assets, paying $10 per American depositary share. Gracell’s stock jumped 60% on the news.

Shares in AstraZeneca jumped 1.6% on the announcement and were trading 1.2% higher at 11:55 GMT.

Under the terms of the deal, Gracell will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Cambridge, England-based pharmaceutical firm. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2024.

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The buyout gives AstraZeneca Gracell’s lead asset GC012F, a novel cell therapy in mid-stage trials for multiple myeloma and other blood cancers. Its platform aims to improve T cell fitness, shorten manufacturing times, and boost the efficacy of autologous CAR-T treatments.

Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca’s EVP of Oncology R&D said the deal will “accelerate our cell therapy strategy in haematology” and “explore the potential for cell therapy to reset the immune response in autoimmune diseases.”

Shares in AstraZeneca are down 8% year-to-date.