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Biotech Co. founded by UCLA Scientists to be acquired by Astellas, Pharma Inc.

A business success story has both UCLA and a team of enterprising UCLA scientists envisioning a brighter future for cancer research and patient care.

In 1996, a unique collaboration of leading UCLA scientists led by Dr. Arie Belldegrun founded the biotechnology company Agensys Inc. and the company now stands to reap $537 million through an acquisition by Astellas Pharma Inc., making it one of the largest Los Angeles-based private biotech firms poised to tackle therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibody oncology research and drug development.

According to Astellas, the acquisition will enable Agensys to become the cornerstone of the companys biologics efforts and will allow the Agensys team to accelerate its discovery and commercial efforts while working to achieve the vision of building a global leader in biologics and oncology.

Agensys, originally known as UroGenesys, was created with $8 million in seed money from private donors and angel investors, many of whom were grateful patients of the UCLA physicians who had helped spur the development of novel gene-based therapies for prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men.

As clinicians and scientists, we wanted to build on the discoveries made in our individual labs to help move cancer research forward from the bench to the bedside, said Belldegrun, founding chairman of Agensys, professor and chief of urologic oncology in the department of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a researcher with UCLAs Jonsson Cancer Center.

The UCLA scientists worked with former president and chief executive officer of Teledyne Technologies Dr. Donald B. Rice, who became CEO of Agensys. They were joined in 1999 by Dr. Aya Jakobovits, who helped develop monoclonal antibody technology at the company. Today, Agensys specializes in the discovery of proprietary targets for a variety of cancer indications and in antibody product development, manufacturing

Contact: Rachel Champeau
University of California - Los Angeles

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