- H. Lundbeck A/S announced Friday morning that it will acquire the company Prexton Therapeutics BV. In return, Prexton will receive an immediate payment of €100 million (approximately $123 million), with up to €805 million ($989 million) in sales milestones.
- Lundbeck will take over Prexton's experimental asset foliglurax, which is being investigated as a supportive therapy to levodopa, the current standard of care for the treatment of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
- Formed in 2012 as a spin-off company of Merck KGaA by Francois Conquet and M Ventures, Prexton's background is in disorders of the brain. Prior to the deal, Prexton raised $10 million in a Series A round and $31 million in a Series B round of financing for its small-molecule compound.
The acquisition of the drug candidate from Prexton will line up nicely with Lundbeck's other assets, which focus on such psychiatric and neurological disorders as Alzheimer's disease, depression, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. The assets will add to the more than 20 R&D candidates the company already has in its pipeline in this therapeutic space.
The ownership of the new compound could renew some optimism at Lundbeck — it suffered a setback in February of this year when the development program for its Alzheimer's disease drug idalopirdine failed to demonstrate efficacy in Phase 3 trials.
Researchers found foliglurax to be safe and well-tolerated following the conclusion of a Phase 1 clinical trial in 2016. The Phase 2 trial, which began in July 2017 and enrolled approximately 165 patients with Parkinson's disease, will measure how effectively foliglurax reduces the involuntary movements that are a result of long-term treatment with levodopa. Slated to conclude in 2019, the trial will measure the change in patients' muscle rigidity, also known as 'off-time.'
Parkinson's is characterized by a loss in function of dopaminergic brain cells. Although the dopamine precursor levodopa successfully mimics naturally occurring dopamine, relieving some symptoms, it does not address the underlying causes of the condition. To boot, levodopa's efficacy wanes over time, so investigators are hoping the use of foliglurax as an adjunctive therapy will slow levodopa's abatement.
Foliglurax seeks to harness a neuronal system outside of the dopaminergic system that is not typically affected by Parkinson's. Instead, it recruits the help of mGluR4, a target of the glutamatergic system.