Allergan enlists Exicure in search of hair loss drugs with $25M upfront, doubling down on area dear to AbbVie
After AbbVie became a formidable player in medical aesthetics overnight by swallowing Allergan, the Botox maker is beefing up the pipeline with new R&D projects.
The latest deal brings in the gene expression experts at Exicure, who is receiving $25 million upfront to discover and develop two new treatments for hair loss disorders. Utilizing its spherical nucleic acid (SNA) technology, the biotech starts with an artificial nanosphere as a scaffold, assembling single- and double-stranded nucleic acids on the surface to find molecules that could modulate antisense or RNAi pathways.
Should Allergan exercise its option on the treatments, it will pay up to $362.5 million total in milestones per program and take over clinical development and commercialization.
“We are excited to combine our knowledge of nucleic acid therapeutics with Allergan’s deep expertise in medical aesthetics to develop and commercialize innovative treatments for hair loss disorders.” Exicure CEO David Giljohann said in a statement. “This collaboration is an exciting opportunity to advance Exicure’s SNA technology in an important new therapeutic area.”
Allergan has previously obtained a DP2 antagonist from the buyout of Kythera to combat male pattern baldness. But setipiprant is now nowhere to be found on its website after flunking an efficacy study in which patients on the drug only reported a 0.3 improvement on the 7-point subject self-assessment score (SSA) over 0.2 on placebo, with an abysmal p-value of 0.9101.
In June the company placed a bet on a different approach by investing in Stemson, a cell therapy player looking to generate new hair follicles from induced pluripotent stem cells.
If they work out — and we won’t find out for a long time — these new therapies will have a heavyweight commercial champion in AbbVie, which has signaled strong interest in Allergan’s medical aesthetics products led by Botox.
Earlier this week AbbVie sold $30 billion of bonds to finance the $63 billion buyout, upsized from the $28 billion initially planned. The Wall Street Journal noted that the sale was the biggest of such type this year and the fourth biggest investment-grade debt sale on record.
The pharma giant ended up issuing 10 different bonds with maturities ranging from 1.5 years to 30 years. The yield on 10-year notes would reportedly be 1.5 percentage points about the comparable US Treasury yield.