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Deals round up – January 1st-15th 2018

Dealmaking has already started in earnest in 2018, with at least 20 deals signed in only the first two weeks. Many of these coincided with the annual JP Morgan conference that has just come to a close, and many of them involve big pharma.

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Jan 15, 2018
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Dealmaking has already started in earnest in 2018, with at least 20 deals signed in only the first two weeks. Many of these coincided with the annual JP Morgan conference that has just come to a close, and many of them involve big pharma.

On 2 January, Roche kicked off the year’s dealmaking as it announced its plans to buy precision oncology company Ignyta for $1.7 billion. Ignyta is developing the multikinase TRK inhibitor entrectinib, one of a growing pipeline of pioneering drugs for tissue-agnostic cancer indications. A key competitor that is being developed by Loxo Oncology, larotrectinib, was the focus of a potential $1.5 billion deal between Loxo and Bayer in November last year.

Roche’s deal was followed closely by a duo of deals from Takeda. In one deal, Takeda announced it would pay $620 million to buy advanced therapies company TiGenix and its Crohn’s disease stem cell therapy darvadstrocel, extending their existing collaboration on this product. Takeda’s second deal will see them team up with Denali Therapeutics in one of several new year’s deals that emphasized companies’ continued investment in neuroscience—in contrast to Pfizer’s recent decision to exit early-stage R&D in the field.

Denali—which is focused on exploring genetic linkages to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease— is less than being 5 years old, but it already has a candidate ready for clinical trials and raised almost $350 million even before its recent ~$250-million IPO. The deal with Takeda, which includes an initial $150 million payment to Denali, will involve three neurodegeneration programs, two of which will focus on Alzheimer disease.

Among more than 10 other collaborations in a range of areas, Johnson and Johnson also made a further commitment to Alzheimer disease through its gene therapy deal with the University of Pennsylvania. This deal will combine the company’s anti-Alzheimer antibodies with the adeno-associated viruses being developed at the university.

Focusing on migraine, Teva signed a $200 million deal that gives Alder Biopharmaceuticals a global license (excluding Japan and Korea) to develop, manufacture and commercialize eptinezumab, a CGRP-targeted antibody for migraine. Alder’s eptinezumab is one of four therapies (also including Teva’s fremanezumab) in late-stage development that target signalling by CGRP, a small neuromodulatory peptide that has a key role in migraine pathogenesis. This deal also means Alder’s earlier appeal against Teva’s European patent on CGRP antibodies will be absolved.

And finally, the largest deal to take place so far in 2018 was Celgene’s $7 billion acquisition of Impact Biomedicines in order to gain access to its second-generation JAK2 kinase inhibitor fedratinib, which is in development for a type of blood cancer called myelofibrosis.

It seems dealmaking has had quite an active start, we will monitor more of the trends next week.

Go to the profile of Raveena Bhambra

Raveena Bhambra

Editor, BioPharma Dealmakers , Nature Publishing Group

Hello all, I am the Editor of BioPharma Dealmakers, a quarterly publication that assists companies in identifying potential partners in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry and appears in both Nature Biotechnology and Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. I am very passionate about the biopharma industry and have over 12 years of experience of working in the field, specifically in dealmaking, partnering and licensing. In my previous roles I have conducted partner searches identifying both products/technologies and partners for clients, and have edited and written dealmaking-focused reports.

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