Alexion adds to pipeline with 2 early-stage R&D deals
- Alexion Pharmaceuticals on Wednesday announced collaborations with Affibody and Zealand Pharma, potentially gaining rights to as many as five experimental therapies.
- The Affibody deal gives Alexion access to ABY-039, a therapy for rare Immunoglobulin G-mediated autoimmune diseases that’s currently in Phase 1 testing.
- As part of the Zealand agreement, Alexion will lead clinical development of a peptide therapy candidate now in the preclinical stage. The company also gains options for as many as three other targets to treat complement-mediated diseases, a core focus for the rare disease biotech.
The deals are part of Alexion’s push to expand its pipeline and grow beyond its blockbuster blood disorder treatment, Soliris (eculizumab). That drug brought in $3.6 billion last year, roughly 85% of the company's total product sales.
Wednesday's agreements follow a flurry of activity last year for Alexion. In the fourth quarter, the company bought Syntimmune in a potentially $1.2 billion deal, about six months after agreeing to pay $855 million to acquire Wilson Therapeutics. Alexion also inked smaller partnerships with Complement Pharma and Dicerna Pharmaceuticals to gain access to early-stage therapies.
As part of the latest deal, Alexion will pay $25 million upfront to Affibody and lines up as much as $625 million in future milestone and royalty payments, Alexion said. Affibody retains the option to co-promote ABY-039 and will lead development of the therapy for an undisclosed indication.
The anti-FcRN medicine has the potential to become a “convenient self-administered treatment option,” said John Orloff, Alexion's R&D head, in a statement. It will become the second clinical-stage medicine in the class for Alexion, after the company acquired SYNT001 in the Syntimmune transaction.
In its deal with Zealand, Alexion agreed to invest $15 million in the Danish drugmaker and pay $25 million upfront for rights to the first treatment candidate. Zealand also stands to receive as much as $115 million in development milestone payments and as much as $495 million in sales milestones, plus royalties.
The three other targets in the Zealand deal would come with potential for further milestone payments and each carries a $15 million option fee, Alexion said.