BridgeBio company sells off rare disease candidate to Galderma partner
Israeli biotech Sol-Gel Technologies announced Friday that it got its hands on a rare disease drug candidate from PellePharm for almost $75 million, amid claims that the drug has the potential to reach a $300 million market.
Execs said on a conference call Friday morning that patidegib, a hedgehog signaling pathway blocker, is being investigated to treat Gorlin syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that increases the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer such as basal cell skin cancer and medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. The disease affects around one in every 31,000 people, and an estimated 70,000 people worldwide.
The biotech said that it will be paying PellePharm $4.7 million upfront with an additional $70 million in development, NDA and commercial milestones, plus single-digit royalties. The deal is expected to close on Jan. 30.
Sol-Gel, which already has two FDA-approved dermatology treatments with partner Galderma, said that this new acquisition reflects a shift in focus for the company. Per board chairman Mori Arkin Friday morning, the company is pivoting from dermatological products in a “very crowded market” to instead pushing “for more unique products, for more lucrative products that cater to rare disease and to real problems.”
“This will be also our strategy for the future,” Arkin reiterated.
A query to Sol-Gel by Endpoints News was not immediately returned.
PellePharm is a BridgeBio company that has been quiet in recent years, with its last press release having been published in October of 2020. Back in 2018, Leo Pharma took a minority stake in PellePharm, agreeing to provide R&D support to the company that was planning on testing patidegib in a Phase III.
According to the company’s LinkedIn page, only five employees remain at PellePharm.
Sol-Gel is planning its own Phase III trial, which will include selecting patients that have a specific mutation. Sol-Gel’s study is expected to begin in the second half of this year, with results expected by the end of 2025.
Sol-Gel added that the drug, already having orphan drug designation from both the FDA and EMA, on top of FDA’s breakthrough therapy designation, may have enough support for approval from a single pivotal trial, according to the agencies.
Sol-Gel also issued a second press release Friday, where it announced it was raising $22.8 million via concurrent direct and private placement offerings. Investors included Armistice Capital and M. Arkin Dermatology Ltd., an entity wholly-owned by Arkin.
“I’m very happy to provide my own capital to this project, and to continue to support the company all the way until the success of this project,” Arkin added on the conference call.
Shares of Sol-Gel $SLGL went down slightly after the market opened Friday.