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Astellas, Iota ink wireless implant pact

Iota Biosciences said last week that it has entered a research and development agreement with Astellas Pharma to explore new biosensing and treatment measures with wireless implantable medical devices.

The deal will pair the companies up to design detailed specifications of the implantable devices and conduct preclinical studies for several diseases, according to a news release.

Berkeley, Calif.-based Iota specializes in bioelectronics, developing battery-free and wireless millimeter-sized implantable devices to pair with Astellas’ Rx prescription drug business. Tokyo-based Astellas invested in Iota through its U.S. subsidiary, Astellas Venture Management LLC, in May 2018.

Iota said it expects the battery-free and wireless devices it is developing will enable new classes of biosensors to monitor the condition of tissues and organs, while new treatment devices could be designed to provide stimulation to nerves and muscles.

“We envision a future in which our ultra-small implantable devices will be used in combination with, or as an alternative to, conventional diagnostics and therapies,” Iota co-founders & co-CEOs Jose Carmena and Michel Maharbiz said in the release. “Through our collaboration with Astellas, we expect to make our innovative technologies available to patients around the world.”

“We are very pleased to be able to collaborate with Iota, led by pioneers in the field of bioelectronics,” added Astellas chief strategy officer Naoki Okamura. “With our Rx+ strategy, we aim to create innovative healthcare solutions that combine our strengths in the prescription drug (Rx) business developed over many years with technologies and knowledge from fields outside of the traditional Rx space. This agreement is part of our efforts, and we will continue to actively invest in this field.”

Astellas agreed to a $625 million overseas distribution deal with Frequency Therapeutics in July. Astellas said the agreement with Iota will have limited impact on the company’s financial results in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.

Written by: SEAN WHOOLEY

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