Cel­gene buys Acety­lon, keeps what it wants and spins the rest back out as Re­ge­na­cy

Wal­ter C. Ogi­er

Months af­ter Cel­gene qui­et­ly passed on a three-year-old op­tion to buy Acety­lon, Cel­gene has come back and snatched what want­ed in a buy­out — al­low­ing the rest to be spun out in­to a new com­pa­ny called Re­ge­na­cy Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

The Big Biotech an­nounced Fri­day af­ter­noon that it had com­plet­ed a deal to buy Boston-based Acety­lon for an un­spec­i­fied sum (Cel­gene paid $100 mil­lion to ac­quire the op­tion) with an eye on world­wide rights to Acety­lon’s se­lec­tive HDAC6 in­hibitor pro­grams and in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty in on­col­o­gy, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion, and au­toim­mune dis­ease, in­clud­ing its lead drug can­di­dates citari­no­s­tat (ACY-241) and ri­col­i­no­s­tat (ACY-1215).

But be­fore the ac­qui­si­tion deal goes through Acety­lon will spin out its Phase II drug ri­col­i­no­s­tat (ACY-1215), for the treat­ment of cer­tain non-can­cer dis­ease in­di­ca­tions in­clud­ing neu­ropathies, as well as Acety­lon’s pre­clin­i­cal se­lec­tive HDAC1,2 in­hibitor can­di­dates and patent fam­i­lies for de­vel­op­ment in all hu­man dis­ease in­di­ca­tions in­clud­ing sick­le cell dis­ease and be­ta-tha­lassemia.

And the old Acety­lon team will run the new com­pa­ny, free of any re­la­tion­ship with Cel­gene. That leaves Wal­ter C. Ogi­er, for­mer Acety­lon CEO, as the new CEO of Re­ge­na­cy.

Back in June, Acety­lon spot­light­ed an analy­sis of 67 ef­fi­ca­cy-evalu­able pa­tients en­rolled in a study that com­bined its HDAC6 in­hibitors with Cel­gene’s Po­m­a­lyst and dex­am­etha­sone. The da­ta con­firmed an over­all re­sponse rate of 46%, a clin­i­cal ben­e­fit rate of 58%, a dis­ease con­trol rate of 82%, 9 months du­ra­tion of re­sponse, and 7 months pro­gres­sion free sur­vival. These da­ta com­pared “fa­vor­ably to ma­ture his­tor­i­cal da­ta for the MM-002 and MM-003 tri­als of Pom and Dex alone which demon­strat­ed 31-33% ORR, 7-8 months DOR, and 4 months me­di­an PFS.”

“I think there’s a lit­tle bit of down­side risk if the big com­pa­ny doesn’t ex­er­cise the op­tion,” Ogi­er told Fierce­Biotech back in 2013. “And there’s al­ways re­con­sid­er­a­tion for what the pur­chase price would be. If you ne­go­ti­ate these arrange­ments cor­rect­ly, you can min­i­mize those risks.”

“We are ex­cit­ed to con­tin­ue Acety­lon’s lega­cy through the re­ceipt of rights to many of Acety­lon’s most promis­ing com­pounds and the con­tin­ued ad­vance­ment of these clin­i­cal and pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams in dis­ease in­di­ca­tions out­side of Cel­gene’s ar­eas of strate­gic fo­cus, where we be­lieve pa­tients may es­pe­cial­ly ben­e­fit from se­lec­tive HDAC in­hi­bi­tion,” Ogi­er said in a state­ment.

In­side Track: Be­hind the Scenes of a Ma­jor Biotech SPAC

Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

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Stephen Hahn (AP Images)

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