The deals collection - May 2019

A handful of notable acquisitions took place in May, bringing in assets and platforms for major biopharma companies.

Jun 28, 2019
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A handful of notable acquisitions took place in May, bringing in assets and platforms for major biopharma companies.

Early in the month, Lundbeck acquired Abide Therapeutics for $250 million, and could pay a further $150 million in milestones. Lundbeck gains Abide’s phase 2a Tourette's syndrome candidate ABX-1431, which modulates the endocannabinoid system by targeting monoacylglycerol lipase, as well as its chemoproteomic platform for identifying inhibitors of other serine hydrolases, a large protein family with broad therapeutic relevance.   

Shortly after, Pfizer agreed to pay $340 million to buy the rare-disease biotech Therachon. Its lead asset is TA-46, a soluble recombinant human fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) decoy intended to treat short-limbed dwarfism, which has completed phase 1 trials. Pfizer could also be eligible to pay up to $470 million in additional milestones depending on the progress of the therapeutic.

Building on a previous licensing deal, Amgen announced its $167 million purchase of prolific dealmaker Nuevolution, gaining its Chemetics drug discovery platform, which it has used to identify early-stage candidates for targets including RORγt and BET. The platform uses DNA-encoded libraries, which are well-suited to identifying starting points for targeted protein degraders - a hot emerging modality.

In the largest acquisition of the month, Merck & Co. agreed to pay $1.05 billion upfront and a potential $1.15 billion in milestones for Peloton Therapeutics, which has an oral HIF-2α inhibitor for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) that is about to enter phase 3 trials. Peloton was about to go public before the deal was signed, and the size of the deal may reflect the intense competition among the leading developers of immune checkpoint inhibitors such as Merck, which has recently received approval for its checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in RCC.

Finally, in the kidney disease area as well, although not an acquisition, Gilead struck a deal with Goldfinch to discover and develop drugs for diabetic kidney disease and certain rare kidney diseases. The deal, which includes a $55 million upfront payment, $54 million in research support and almost $2 billion in potential milestones, will see Goldfinch apply its kidney genome atlas to identify targets and drug candidates, with Gilead taking responsibility for development of selected candidates.

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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