Takeda Pharmaceutical Co has hit the acquisition trail again to buy the USA's Envoy Therapeutics, which focuses on "finding new drugs with superior efficacy and fewer side effects than existing treatments".

The deal is valued at $140 million, which includes an undisclosed upfront fee and progress-dependent, preclinical milestone payments. Takeda already has a 12.5% stake in Envoy, having participated in the latter's series A financing in October 2009 and two years ago, the firms entered into a  research collaboration in the area of schizophrenia.

The attraction of Envoy, which has 21 staff, lies in its bacTRAP technology which Takeda notes combines "innovative genetic engineering with molecular biology techniques for labeling and extracting the protein-making components of specific types of cells". The Tokyo-based group says that the technology is "especially powerful in the brain where many hundreds of cell types are intermingled but is applicable to therapeutic areas beyond the central nervous system".

Takeda plans to continue operating Envoy in Jupiter, Florida through March 2013, and will then transfer the majority of its scientific staff and management team to its research base in San Diego, California.

Takeda has been eyeing acquisitions of late and announced last month that it is paying $60 million upfront to acquire the USA's LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals and expand its vaccines business. In May, its global reach was expanded with the acquisition of Brazil's Multilab.