Friday, March 06, 2020

Bloomberg News: $191 Million Payout for Stanford Researcher in Immunotherapy Deal

Renowned stem cell scientist Irv Weissman of Stanford University stands to gain $191 million from the sale of a Menlo Park, Ca., immunotherapy firm that he co-founded to develop a cancer treatment, Bloomberg News reported this afternoon.

The firm is Forty Seven, Inc., whose scientific underpinnings were developed in Weissman's lab. Gilead Sciences, Inc., of Foster City, Ca., announced Monday that it is buying Forty Seven for $4.9 billion which amounts to a price of $95.50 a share.

Weissman serves on the company's board and holds 4.2 percent of the company's stock, according to the article.

Weissman was not immediately available for comment on the report.

The article by Devon Pendleton said,

"Stanford’s payout from the sale is $67.1 million. Other winners from the deal include billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller’s Duquesne Family Office and the Rockefeller family’s venture capital firm Venrock Associates. The entities, which own stakes of 0.8% and 1.2%, respectively, acquired their holdings in the last quarter of 2019, filings show, when the shares traded for as low as $5.53 and as high as $45.39."
Pendleton wrote that Weissman "credits the support of the nonprofit Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the state-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) with funding Forty Seven’s early clinical research and development."

CIRM, commonly known as the state stem cell agency, awarded Forty Seven directly and Weissman $30 million for earlier research. The agency does not stand to benefit from the sale unless the proposed therapies reach the marketplace and generate a profit. That could trigger royalties to the state.  However, the agency has said that the deal validates its efforts to successfully stimulate research that leads to a product and fills an unmet medical need.

Bloomberg said,

"Biotechs saw it as too dicey to invest in at an early stage, Weissman said. So he and (Ravindra) Majeti formed Forty Seven, with Stanford getting an equity stake and future royalties that it agreed to share with the state."
Majeti is a professor of medicine at Stanford, a director of Forty Seven and also held stock. The Bloomberg piece did not identify his gain.

(A slightly earlier version of this story attributed the initial report to the Los Angeles Times. It was a Bloomberg News story that was picked up by the Los Angeles Times.) 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:20 AM

    It will be interesting to how Irv shares his windfall. If he is true to his scientific calling, all will be well.


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