Reflecting growing interest in developing targeted therapies using genomic insights, UCB said today it has acquired Duke University spinout Element Genomics for up to $30 million.

UCB said the deal was designed to strengthen its genomics and epigenomics research platform for identifying novel drug targets.

Based in Durham, NC, Element Genomics has developed a suite of technologies designed to improve understanding of genome structure and function—including CRISPR-editing technologies used for genomic and epigenomic regulatory region analysis and modulation, enabled with advanced informatics capabilities.

UCB reasons that Element Genomics technologies and expertise will enable the company to continue to enrich its pipeline, specifically by strengthening target discovery and characterization in disease-relevant systems.

“We at Element are thrilled that UCB shared our vision for treating disease through knowledge gained through functional genomics and the vast and largely unexplored biology of the epigenome,” said John Oxaal, CEO of Element Genomics. “We believe that together with UCB we can much more quickly harness the power of this approach.”

UCB said it will acquire Element Genomics for upfront and unspecified “short-term success-based” milestone payments totaling $30 million.

“Element Genomics researchers have a stellar reputation and their scientific expertise in genomics and epigenomics will complement UCB's, allowing us to deepen our understanding of disease mechanisms with the aim of developing targeted therapies,” UCB CSO Dhavalkumar Patel said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Element Genomics team and welcome them within UCB.”

Element Genomics' team will continue to be based in downtown Durham, and will work closely with the buyer’s international research teams, according to UCB. The biopharma added that it plans to pursue “close cooperation” with Duke, and the four Duke professors who co-founded Element Genomics—Charles Gersbach, Ph.D., Greg Crawford, Ph.D., Tim Reddy, Ph.D., and Kris Wood, Ph.D.

Headquartered in Brussels, UCB employs about 7,500 people in 40 countries.

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