Astellas Purchases DMD Drug For $450 Million


Japan-based biotech Asetllas has bought its partner Mitobridge in a deal worth up to $450 million. The acquisition gives Astellas full reign of a phase1 Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug in exchange $225 million upfront and the same amount at a later time.

Astellas first connected with Mitobridge, previously known as Mitokyne, back in 2013 to access a source of treatments created to enhance mitochondrial function. That gave Astellas an option to purchase Mitobridge at specific points over the next five years as a piece of a bundle that could potentially be worth $730 million to the biotech and its investors.

Astellas’ choice to take up its option means it will pay a minimum piece of that amount. The upfront aspect of the acquisition is valued at $225 million, though Asellas will only pay $165 million once its existing stake in Mitobridge is included. Astellas is committed for a further $225 million in clinical milestones.

The main part of this purchase is MA-2011, a PRAR-delta modulator that moved into phase 1 tests in healthy volunteers earlier in 2017. If everything goes well, MA-2011 will move into testing in patients with DMD.

MA-2011 is created to reverse the mitochondrial defects that play a part in DMD progression. In preclinical tests of DMD muscle cells, the candidate upregulated genes connected with fatty acid oxidation, resulting to gains in mitochondrial function and biogenesis. DMD mice treated every day with the treatment could run for a longer and experienced reduced muscle necrosis.

That preclinical package showed to be strong enough to catapult the candidate into the clinic and has now also contributed to Astellas’ making a payment for it. Astellas will make Mitobridge a wholly owned subsidiary, arranging the biotech’s scientists to continue exploring the potential to use MA-2011 to treat other diseases defined by mitochondrial dysfunction.


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