M&A

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

Walter C. Ogier

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.


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RAPS Regulatory Convergence 2017