Takeda has expanded its fledgling vaccines business through the $60m acquisition of a US biopharmaceutical company.
The deal for LigoCyte adds a first-in-class norovirus vaccine candidate and the Montana-based firm's virus-like particle platform (VLP) technology to the vaccines division Takeda set up in January.
Rajeev Venkayya, executive vice president of Takeda's Vaccine Business Division, said: "Takeda's acquisition of LigoCyte is a major step forward in the expansion of Takeda's vaccine business, and a demonstration of Takeda's dedication to preventing illness in children and adults around the world."
The norovirus 'winter vomiting bug' is the most common cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis and foodborne illness in the US, but it is also responsible for 200,000 deaths each year, most of them in developing countries.
Tadataka Yamada, Takeda's chief medical and scientific officer, said: "This milestone underscores Takeda's commitment to innovation and the advancement of global public health through the development of novel vaccines.
"Norovirus is responsible for a significant burden of disease around the world and is notoriously difficult to control. With this acquisition, Takeda will help to protect families and communities from this virus."
LigoCyte's norovirus vaccine is currently in phase I/II clinical trials and the firm also has vaccines in preclinical development for respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and rotavirus.
LigoCyte's vaccines are based on its proprietary virus-like particle platform (VLP) technology, which enables the production of vaccines designed to cover multiple genetic varieties of viruses.
Takeda said it would continue operating LigoCyte in Bozeman, Montana, for the foreseeable future and intends to retain the management team and its 40 or so employees.
Although Japan-headquartered Takeda has a 60-year history of supplying vaccines to its domestic market, its ambitions take a major step forward this year with the formation of its global vaccine business division.
The division's pipeline already includes a Haemophilus Influenza type b (Hib) vaccine in clinical testing and it is working on a combination vaccine containing a Sabin-inactivated poliovirus (s-IPV) vaccine, which could play an important role in polio eradication. The company is also developing a cell culture pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine, in partnership with Baxter.