Last September, Alexion wagered $1.2 billion — $400 million of it upfront — on little biotech Syntimmune to get its hands on a drug targeting IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases. Six months later, the rare disease player is adding a second anti-FcRn asset to its portfolio through a partnership with Sweden’s Affibody.
Alexion will now lead the joint development of a Phase I antibody-mimetic dubbed ABY-039, which blocks the neonatal Fc receptor — a normally helpful enabler of Immunoglobulin G that can however aggravate disease when IgG goes rogue. In addition to a $25 million upfront payment, Affibody is entitled to a maximum of $625 million in milestones and royalties as well as an option to co-promote in the US.
Even though the anti-FcRn arena has a number of players including Harbour BioMed, Immunovant and Momenta, Affibody believes its tech offers a more convenient choice due to its extended half life and potential for subcutaneous administration.
“While clinical development is still early, we are excited by ABY-039’s potential to be an optimal subcutaneous therapy across a number of IgG-mediated diseases, providing patients with the possibility of a convenient self-administered treatment option,” said John Orloff, Alexion’s head of R&D, in a statement.
Alexion has been introducing a number of early-stage assets to its pipeline, both in the complement area — where it’s built up a rep with blockbuster Soliris and follow-on Ultomiris — and other parts of the rare disease landscape. Notably, several of them start small but come with a buyout option, as is the case with Complement Pharma and Caelum.
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