Continuing the recent flurry of major neuroscience deals, last week saw another one—between Celgene and Prothena.
The collaboration between the two companies will focus on the development of therapies for several neurodegenerative diseases from preclinical programs targeting three proteins including tau and TDP-43. Prothena will receive an upfront fee of $100 million and a $50 million equity investment from Celgene and could be eligible for up to ~$2 billion in milestone payments. In exchange, Celgene will have the exclusive rights to license any program in the US at the IND and phase 1 stage, and will be responsible for further clinical development and commercialization.
In other deal news, Regeneron have teamed up with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to discover RNAi therapeutics for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The deal will combine Alnylam’s RNAi technology platform expertise with Regeneron’s research around the target NSD17B13, which was very recently identified in a human genetics study. The development of therapeutics based on RNAi has produced a number of promising candidates in recent years and this deal underlines the potential this class of drugs hold as the field awaits the first approval—particularly for liver diseases, as RNAi therapeutics tend to accumulate in this organ.
Finally, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) just announced that Novartis will sell its 36.5% share of their consumer health joint venture to GSK for $13 billion. The joint venture was formed in 2015, when GSK exchanged its late-stage and commercial oncology pipeline for Novartis’s vaccines portfolio. Novartis’s divestiture of what it sees as a ‘non-core asset’ gives it substantial funds to pursue bolt-on acquisitions for its core pharma business.