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May 20, 2014

UCB Acquires Minority Stake in Beryllium

  • UCB has acquired a minority stake in Beryllium, a developer of treatments for severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. Neither the percentage stake, nor the value of that stake or other financial terms, was disclosed by Beryllium in announcing the transaction today. 

    Beryllium said UCB’s minority stake is an outgrowth of a six-year-old collaboration between the companies that already had yielded “significant scientific breakthroughs” in developing undisclosed first-in-class small molecule drugs.

    Beryllium CEO Johan Pontin, said in a statement his company’s ongoing partnership with UCB was aimed at “helping translate the basic understanding of proteins involved in disease into important druggable targets to develop novel therapeutic modalities.”

    Added Ismail Kola, evp of UCB’s New Medicines unit: “Beryllium’s extensive target-centric drug discovery expertise, comprehensive disease pathways knowledge, deep experience in protein characterization and diverse technological capabilities have enabled UCB to progress rapidly on important discovery research projects,” We look forward to strengthening our relationship with an agile, committed and reliable partner as Beryllium expands its business.”

    As part of the agreement between UCB and Beryllium, Neil Weir, UCB New Medicines’ senior vice president for discovery research, has taken a seat on Beryllium’s board of directors.

    The UCB stake in Beryllium follows by a week Beryllium’s May 12 disclosure that it finalized its consolidation of restructured assets from Emerald Bio and deCODE Genetics, and expanded its leadership team. Beryllium sold off a reagent business and robotics business, both of which it acquired from deCODE in 2009 when the company filed for bankruptcy. Emerald Bio was a spinout of Iceland-based deCODE, which was acquired in 2012 by Amgen for $415 million.

    Beryllium named as its head of Dalia Cohen, Ph.D., a former CSO at Asterand and Rosetta Genomics who led the functional genomics team at Novartis for eight years. The company also named three vice presidents: Daniel Kemp, Ph.D., vp of drug discovery; Arturo Morales, Ph.D., vp of informatics; and Thomas Roddy, Ph.D., vp of drug discovery.

    Founded in 2009, Beryllium maintains East Coast operations in Bedford, MA, and West Coast operations in Bainbridge Island, WA. Beryllium plans to expand operations this year, telling Mass High Tech it will add 25 Bedford-based employees to its total staff of about 60, and will triple the size of its 9,000-square-foot Bedford headquarters by October.


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