Sucampo bags rare disease player Vtesse in $200M buyout agreement

Ben Machielse, Vtesse CEO

Just a little more than two years after it was launched, the single-asset biotech Vtesse is being bought out by Sucampo for $200 million up front.

Vtesse spun out of the incubator Cydan with a Series A that eventually swelled to $42 million. The biotech used the cash to advance a human study into a new drug — which picked up a breakthrough drug designation — for rare cases of Niemann-Pick type C1 disease. And Rockville, MD-based Sucampo pledged backers a royalty stream on any marketing revenue.

Sucampo is picking up a late-stage asset, VTS-270, now in a global pivotal trial, with a readout expected in mid-2018. Sucampo is confidently projecting a market launch in 2019.

The drug attacks a disease characterized by a malfunction of lipid transport inside cells, leading to an accumulation of lipids that can eventually be fatal. And the company was in line for a priority review voucher on approval.

Peter Greenleaf, CEO of Sucampo

Ben Machielse, the CEO of the Gaithersburg, MD-based biotech, announced just two weeks ago that the company had completed recruiting for the pivotal study.

The buyout is a crucial next step for Sucampo. The company ran straight into a catastrophe last year as its lead drug, cobiprostone, flunked back-to-back mid-stage studies, spurring the company to give up on the drug after the flops shred its stock price $SCMP. The company started today with a market cap of $477 million.

Alexandria Venture Investments, Bay City Capital LLC, Lundbeckfond Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and Pfizer Venture Investments backed the company.

“(W)e believe that this acquisition not only has the potential to make an important difference in the lives of patients, their families, and the dedicated physicians who care for them, but also to create value for shareholders. We welcome the employees of Vtesse to our team and look forward to accelerating the global development of VTS-270 in the hopes of bringing this novel treatment to patients afflicted by Niemann-Pick Disease Type C1 in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Peter Greenleaf, the CEO of Sucampo.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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