Takeda antes up $44M for rare disease pact, turning to Oxford spinout's exosome tech
More than two weeks into Takeda’s new work guidelines in response to the Covid-19 crisis — ordering staffers to work from home and stay off the road — the BD team has something to celebrate.
In a boost to the rare disease unit built around Shire’s legacy R&D operation after its $62 billion buyout deal, Takeda has inked a new collaboration in pursuit of exosome delivery technology. Their partner of choice is Evox Therapeutics, an Oxford spinout.
Including upfront, milestones and research funding, the near-term payment comes in at $44 million.
Evox stands to earn a total of $882 million if the Japanese pharma giant follows through with all five protein replacement and mRNA therapies that it has the option to take over. Only two targets have been selected; the first is a preclinical program for Niemann-Pick disease type C while the second is undisclosed.
The British biotech is in charge of everything until IND-enabling studies, as well as manufacturing up to the end of Phase I trials. But past the preclinical handover, the manufacturing costs will be reimbursed.
“[T]he deal significantly extends our cash runway into late 2022 and allows us to aggressively expand our own proprietary pipeline of rare disease drugs, including a urea cycle disorder programme we expect to enter the clinic in 2021,” CEO Antonin de Fougerolles said in a statement.
Having raised over $55 million from investors including GV, Redmile Group and Panacea Healthcare Venture, Evox has positioned itself among the handful of players that are using tiny exosomes — part of the body’s natural vesicle courier system — to deliver a therapeutic payload where needed, including targets in the brain. Boehringer Ingelheim is also in for an alliance.
For Takeda, this adds a promising platform to “enhance tissue delivery for a variety of payloads,” said Madhu Natarajan, a Shire vet who’s now heading Takeda’s rare disease drug discovery unit. “Collaborating on the Evox exosome platform also complements our expanding capabilities in cell and gene therapies.”
Though falling well behind some of its Big Pharma brethren, Takeda is developing its own AAV-based gene therapies for hemophilia. Out with non-core assets that are either getting spun out or sold, in with innovative therapies — the new modus operandi is in full swing.