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GSK Acquires Elsie Bio for $50M

BIOTECH: Plans to Advance Oligonucleotide Platform

SAN DIEGO – What began as a collaboration relationship between San Diego-based Elsie Biotechnologies and pharma giant GSK plc (LSE/NYSE: GSK) has blossomed into something more permanent.

The two companies announced June 6 that GSK was purchasing Elsie for around $50 million. The purchase of Elsie will expand GSK’s platform R&D capabilities into oligonucleotide therapeutics.

Elsie, founded in 2021, is developing a discovery platform with an ultra-high throughput proprietary process that allows for the complete evaluation of oligonucleotide chemical space. Oligonucleotides have the ability to modulate gene expression. Researchers see them as an attractive approach to addressing a large number of therapeutic targets that are not addressed by traditional small molecules or biologics.

Kevin Green
Chief Operating Officer
Elsie Biotechnologies

“Elsie’s discovery platform can process a large amount of data in a short span of time, which allows for the complete evaluation of all possible sequences or chemical modification patterns,” said Elsie Chief Operating Officer Kevin Green. “Applying proprietary encoding technology to oligonucleotide therapeutic candidates could allow for the development of compounds with increased activity, reduced toxicity, and improved delivery across a range of diseases.”

The Elsie and GSK collaboration has already made “great strides” in oligonucleotide drug development focused on therapeutics for chronic hepatitis B and steatotic liver disease, said GSK Chief Science Officer Tony Wood.

GSK plans to utilize its expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning and apply it to data generated with the Elsie platform to support development of predictive models for future oligonucleotide design.

“By bringing together Elsie’s expertise and our internal capabilities, we can design and develop oligonucleotides for difficult-to-treat diseases of scale with larger patient populations,” Wood said.

Tony Wood
Chief Science Officer
GSK plc

A Growing Relationship

GSK entered into a collaboration agreement with Elsie in July of last year that meshed its DNA encoded library technologies expertise with Elsie’s oligonucleotide discovery platform. In February this year, GSK exercised its option to license Elie’s platform.

“Our initial agreement with Elsie began with a research collaboration which allowed us to explore the platform’s capabilities. After the research period, we made the decision to option the platform on a non-exclusive license, giving us the ability to use Elsie’s platform technology into our oligonucleotide R&D. We then decided to acquire them,” said Christopher Austin, senior vice president of research technologies at GSK. “We are impressed and excited by the technology and talent at Elsie and look forward to working with them more closely as part of our GSK R&D team.”

Christopher Austin
SVP, Research Technologies
GSK plc

Austin added that GSK will be retaining the entire Elsie team and has plans to grow it.

Elsie Biotechnologies
FOUNDED: 2021
CEO: Dillon Flood
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego, Sorrento Valley
BUSINESS: biotechnology platform company focusing on oligonucleotide therapeutics
EMPLOYEES: 15
WEBSITE: elsiebio.com
NOTABLE: Elsie’s technology won the 2021 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2021.

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