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Vertex to expand autoimmune and inflammatory disease pipeline with $4.9bn Alpine acquisition

Vertex to expand autoimmune and inflammatory disease pipeline with $4.9bn Alpine acquisition

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has announced its acquisition of Alpine Immune Sciences, a biotechnology company focused on developing and discovering protein-based immunotherapies, in a deal worth $4.9bn. As part of the agreement, Vertex will gain rights to Alpine’s immunotherapies to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.The company will gain rights to Alpine’s lead molecule, povetacicept, to treat IgA nephropathy

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks health cells, tissues and organs, while inflammatory diseases involve excess inflammation. In some cases, both types of diseases can occur at the same time due to shared genetic associations, clinical presentations and treatment responses.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vertex will acquire Alpine for $65 per share in cash for a total equity value of approximately $4.9bn and a Vertex subsidiary will provide a cash tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Alpine common stock.

Vertex will receive Alpine’s lead molecule, povetacicept (ALPN-303), in immunoglobin A (IgA) nephropathy, a serious and progressive autoimmune disease of the kidney that affects approximately 130,000 people in the US. In addition, the dual antagonist of B cell activating factor and APRIL, a proliferation inducing ligand, holds the potential to be used for other serious autoimmune diseases of the kidney, including membranous nephropathy, lupus nephritis and autoimmune cytopenias.

So far, povetacicept has demonstrated “potential best-in-class efficacy” in this condition during phase 2 development, Vertex said, and is on track to enter phase 3 clinical development in the second half of 2024.

The transaction was previously approved by both companies’ boards of directors and is expected to close later this year.

Reshma Kewalramani, chief executive officer and president, Vertex, commented: “We… look forward to fully exploring povetacicept’s potential as a ‘pipeline-in-a-product’ and adding Alpine’s protein engineering and immunotherapy capabilities to Vertex’s toolbox.” Mitchell Gold, executive chairman and chief executive officer, Alpine, said: “Povetacicept has demonstrated potential best-in-class attributes in IgA nephropathy and has broad development potential across a number of other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions with significant unmet need.”

As part of a strategic partnership between Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics, announced in 2015, the European Commission granted conditional marketing authorisation to both companies’ gene therapy, Casgevy (exagamglogene autotemcel), for use in transfusion-dependant beta thalassaemia and severe sickle cell disease patients aged 12 years and over.

April 15, 2024

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