Allergan partnerships with Assembly Biosciences, Lysosomal target gut bugs and CNS
- In two announcements released on Monday, Allergan said it has reached agreements to partner with both Lysosomal Therapeutics (Parkinson's disease) and Assembly Biosciences (microbiome-linked gastrointestinal disease) for research and development.
- Partnering with Lysosomal Therapeutics bolsters Allergan's pipeline for neurodegenerative diseases. The deal also gives Allergan an option to buy the newly minted biotech start-up following a Phase 1b study for its lead product LTI-291. Financial details are undisclosed.
- The Assembly Biosciences dealhands Allergan worldwide rights to four preclinical bug-based programs in ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in return for a payment of $50 million up front, along with development and commercial milestone payments, and tiered royalties. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.
Lysosomal Therapeutics was born in 2014 from research carried out at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) by a team of academics and ex-Genzyme executives. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech hfocuses on Parkinson's disease and could add a new string to Allergan's well-established CNS bow should the big biopharma pursue an acquisition.
"Parkinson's disease is an area of medicine where significant unmet need exists, particularly in the development and potential breakthrough of disease-modifying treatments for the more than 2 million people suffering with Parkinson's today," Allergan's Chief Research & Development Officer David Nicholson said in a Jan. 9 statement.
LTI-291 stimulates the activity of glucocerebrosidase, which is reduced in around 5-10% of Parkinson's disease patients due to a genetic mutation. The disease is likely to progress more rapidly in those patients, an effect that drugs such as LTI-291 work to combat.
Once upon a time, the term "gut bug" often triggered thoughts of nasty bouts of food poisoning. But now, it's clear that the gut microbiome is much more than that, with links to gastrointestinal inflammatory disease, metabolic disorders, psychiatric illness and many other areas of health and disease. While this is a new approach to disease treatment for Allergan, it complements the company's existing pipeline.
"The microbiome — the microbial populations that colonize the human body — is rapidly gaining prominence in numerous fields of research relevant to Allergan's key areas of focus, including GI disorders," Nicholson said in a separate Jan. 9 statement.
Assembly Biosciences' platform finds and develops 'good' bacteria, and then delivers them in an oral capsule (Gemicel) to the lower intestinal tract. The company is preparing a clinical trial of Assembly's lead microbiome therapeutic for the treatment recurrent Clostridium difficile infections. It is also investigating the drug for other indications, including obesity, diabetes, autism and colorectal cancer.
Follow Suzanne Elvidge on Twitter