Leo, PellePharm strike rare disease deal
- Danish dermatology company Leo Pharma has signed a development and commercialization deal for PellePharm's patidegib topical gel, in development for a rare and disfiguring disease known as Gorlin syndrome.
- PellePharm, a BridgeBio company based in California, will receive $70 million in financing for a global Phase 3 trial testing its gel in the prevention and treatment of Gorlin syndrome. The drugmaker could also receive up to $690 million in merger consideration and milestone payments.
- Leo, meanwhile, gains the option to acquire all of PellePharm's shares. The deal is part of Leo's strategy to create partnerships aimed at developing therapies for overlooked skin diseases.
Leo's focus is on skin disease R&D. Its pipeline includes clinical and preclinical assets under investigation as treatments for psoriasis and eczema.
Gaining access to patidegib topical gel, however, marks its first step into rare disease. Gorlin syndrome or nevoid basal cell carcinoma (BCC) syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body, including the skin. Patients start to have BCCs at younger ages, and some with the disease develop thousands over their lifetime.
PellePharm is just the latest in a string of deals for Leo. Prior deals include picking up rights to JW Pharmaceutical's Phase 1-ready atopic dermatitis candidate JW1601, as well as licensing agreements to acquire later-stage drugs from AstraZeneca and Bausch Health (formerly Valeant).
Leo also recently closed its acquisition of Bayer's portfolio of marketed prescription dermatology products in the U.S.
BridgeBio created PellePharm in 2016, around the topical drug topical patidegib. The biotech has carried out two Phase 2 studies using the small molecule drug as a topical gel to treat BCCs in patients with and without Gorlin syndrome. Collaborating with Leo means PellePharm can begin a one-year registrational Phase 3 trial in Gorlin syndrome in early 2019.
BridgeBio's approach is to pick up assets with potential in rare and serious genetic disorders and create a company to go with each asset. By June 2018, BridgeBio had 19 separate assets, from preclinical to late-stage.
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