After axing a top drug, Millendo bags a PhII replacement with biotech buyout

Millendo Therapeutics has acquired a small French biotech named Alizé Pharma SAS  ̶  and its Phase II obesity-related drug  ̶  in a deal that helps fill out Millendo’s previously thinning pipeline in orphan endocrine diseases.

Millendo wouldn’t disclose the pricetag, but said the acquisition was an all-stock transaction. The deal gets Millendo a Phase II asset called livoletide, a drug meant to treat a rare genetic disease called Prader-Willi Syndrome (the most common form of genetic obesity). A big concern for these patients is the excessive hunger, or hyperphagia, that results in over-eating. Preclinical and clinical data on livoletide have indicated that the drug decreases hyperphagia and negative food-related behaviors, Millendo says.

Julia Owens

This new asset helps fill a gap in Millendo’s pipeline left by the exit of MLE4901, a recently-axed program the Ann Arbor company licensed from AstraZeneca last year. The drug was meant to treat polycystic ovary syndrome, but flopped its Phase IIb study. Interestingly, the license for the now-defunct MLE4901 came in conjunction with a $62 million Series B backing led by New Enterprise Associates. According to Xconomy, investors were hesitant to close the deal until Millendo got MLE4901 in its pipeline. But that program was somewhat short lived.

In a press release last month announcing positive news for a separate compound, Millendo slipped in a one-liner at the end: “Separately, Millendo has decided to discontinue development of MLE4901 after assessment of the clinical risks and benefits of the program.”

Millendo’s president and CEO Julia Owens tells me it was safety concerns that forced the company to shut the program down.

“Some things work and some things don’t. That’s why our Series B investors wanted to bet on two compounds,” Owens said.

Thierry Abribat

Millendo’s lead compound ATR-101 just got the OK to advance into Phase IIb trials after positive results led to an early halt of a Phase II trial in congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a rare endocrine disease.

Now, Millendo is charging ahead with ATR-101 and its newly-acquired livoletide. Owens said ATR-101 will enter Phase IIb trials in 2018, and plans for livoletide are still in the works.

Post acquisition, Millendo will continue to operate the former Alizé Pharma SAS facilities (and keep its existing team) to serve as Millendo’s European R&D base. Thierry Abribat, the founder and president of Alizé, will join Millendo’s board.

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