CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In February 2016, Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma paid $379 million for a small Marlborough, Mass., biotech that developed promising stem-cell therapies, including a potential one-time treatment for a leading cause of blindness.
The acquisition overcame stiff opposition from shareholders in the biotech, Ocata Therapeutics. Some of them believed Tokyo-based Astellas had undervalued Ocata. Others complained that technology pioneered by Robert Lanza, Ocata’s world-renowned chief scientific officer, would go to a foreign company.