The previous chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson is on the hunt for acquisitions after he took the reins on the struggling Belgian biotech Galapagos this yr.

Paul Stoffels is on a “mission” to reinstate Galapagos as a prime European biotech participant. He has returned to guide the corporate he co-founded in 1999, drawn to its sturdy steadiness sheet of €4.4bn in money and present monetary investments, and he’s in search of to unfold entry to revolutionary most cancers remedies in Europe.

Stoffels mentioned he was on the “look out” for corporations with good medication that had not but reached human trials or have been within the early levels that Galapagos may speed up to market. After the worst biotech sell-off for the reason that early 2000s, he mentioned valuations have been beginning to seem engaging.

“It’s a really troublesome time for biotech in the mean time and for colleagues who want cash. That leaves quite a lot of alternatives for us,” he mentioned. “We gained’t purchase a part 3 and compete with Pfizer, Amgen and AbbVie, that’s not what we are able to do.” 

Since Stoffels took over as chief govt in April, he has performed two small offers as a part of his plan to broaden CAR-T expertise inside hospitals to probably lengthen the lifetime of late stage most cancers sufferers. Galapagos will set up its manufacturing capabilities in 10 European hospitals this yr, and as much as 20 subsequent yr, when it’s going to additionally launch within the US. 

The remedy, which turned 10-years-old this yr, remains to be not widespread due to its advanced manufacturing course of, involving accumulating and reprogramming the affected person’s personal immune system cells to focus on the blood cancers.

Galapagos purchased Cellpoint, which has labored with Swiss producer Lonza to create small incubators that permit the cells to be manufactured in hospitals, moderately than shipped to a different web site, and AboundBio, which is able to assist it supply new candidates for subsequent technology CAR-Ts, for a mixed €239mn.

“It’s enjoyable for folks, very motivational, since you instantly, from day one, begin saving lives,” he mentioned. “Within the scientific trial, sufferers stroll again out of the hospital and that’s one thing that may be very good to work on for such a discipline.” 

However in a biotech downturn, he should persuade buyers that the corporate, with a market capitalisation of €2.5bn, must be valued at greater than the money on its steadiness sheet. He mentioned he want to see the market capitalisation above the money steadiness subsequent yr.

The corporate signed a $5.1bn deal with Gilead Sciences in 2019, giving the US biotech rights to promote medication in growth exterior of Europe. Gilead can choose in initially of any part 3 programme to develop the drug collectively.

However Galapagos reported disappointing outcomes for a few of these medication, together with one focusing on osteoarthritis and one other for lung scarring. Stoffels has reduce growth of those programmes, in addition to one for kidney illness, as he focuses the corporate on oncology and immunology.

Stoffels spent 13 years in analysis and growth at J&J, together with serving to steer the event of its Covid-19 vaccine. He believes Europe wants extra funding in biotech to make sure it retains its homegrown biotechs from transferring to the US to “combat” for funds.

“Europeans have distinctive good pharmaceutical expertise, scientific expertise, functionality and historical past of creating medication,” he mentioned. “Just a few new good examples of profitable biotechs in Europe may change that.”


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