Takeda is paying $60 million upfront to acquire the USA's LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals and expand its vaccines business.

The Japan-based major will pay more depending on the progress of certain projects being developed by LigoCyte, a privately-held company headquartered in Bozeman, Montana. Its lead product, a vaccine to prevent norovirus gastroenteritis, is in Phase I/II and the firm has also initiated preclinical development of vaccines against respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and rotavirus.

Rajeev Venkayya, head of Takeda's vaccines division, which was launched in January 2012, noted that norovirus is the most common cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis and foodborne illness in the USA. It infects 21 million people in the latter each year and is responsible for 200,000 deaths per year, most of them in developing countries. He added that "with the only norovirus vaccine in clinical trials today, Takeda will be in a position to change this picture".

Takeda added that "to preserve continuity and build upon LigoCyte's success", it will continue  running the business from Montana "for the foreseeable future and intends to retain the management team and its employees".

Meantime, the Tokyo-headquartered group also announced that it has inked a three-year discovery collaboration with India's Advinus Therapeutics "focused on novel targets for major therapeutic areas, including inflammation, CNS and metabolic diseases".

Under the terms of the agreement, Takeda will receive worldwide commercial rights to drug candidates emerging from this alliance, while privately-held Advinus will receive guaranteed research funding of $36 million over the term of the collaboration. The latter will also be eligible for $9 million in milestones leading to candidate selection, and future clinical and regulatory payments of up to $45 million per product, plus royalties.

The deals round off a busy week for Takeda which also filed vortioxetine, along with partner Lundbeck, for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adult patients in the USA.  It was submitted to regulators in Europe last month and a filing is planned in Japan next year.