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The acquisition will expand Pfizer’s rare disease portfolio with an early pipeline candidate for treating dwarfism.
On May 8, 2019, Pfizer announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all the shares of Therachon Holding, a privately held clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on rare diseases, with assets in development for the treatment of achondroplasia and short bowel syndrome (SBS). The deal is worth $810 million.
Under the agreement, Pfizer will acquire Therachon for $340 million upfront with an additional $470 million in additional key milestone payments based on the development and commercialization of Therachon’s lead pipeline candidate, TA-46, for treating achondroplasia, a genetic condition and the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism.
TA-46 is an investigational, soluble recombinant human fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) decoy, a mechanism of action that is believed to normalize the overactive FGFR3 signaling pathways that underlie bone development abnormalities associated with achondroplasia, according to Pfizer. Therachon is developing TA-46 as a weekly subcutaneous injection for children and adolescents living with the condition. TA-46 has completed Phase I clinical trials and has received orphan drug designation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the FDA.
Prior to the closing of the transaction, Therachon will spin-off its apraglutide development program into a separate, independent company. Apraglutide is a once-weekly, potential best-in-class glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2) analog in Phase II development for short bowel syndrome. Pfizer Ventures, the venture capital arm of Pfizer, currently holds a minority stake and will continue to hold an equity stake in the new company.
“At Pfizer, our strategy is focused on advancing the most promising science in the world, regardless of whether it is found inside or outside of our labs,” said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer chief scientific officer and president, worldwide research, development, and medical, in a company press release. “By acquiring Therachon, we hope to leverage Pfizer’s leading scientific and development capabilities to more rapidly advance this potentially promising therapy for people with achondroplasia.”
“We are thrilled that the work we have done to discover and advance a novel and potentially life-transforming medicine for achondroplasia is now being continued by Pfizer. With its rare disease expertise and worldwide reach, Pfizer is well positioned to accelerate the development of TA-46 and fulfill Therachon’s vision of addressing the complications suffered by children with achondroplasia by targeting the molecular root causes of this condition,” added Therachon CEO Luca Santarelli in the press release.
The acquisition complements Pfizer’s existing research portfolio in rare diseases. “Through the acquisition of Therachon, we believe that we have a significant opportunity to transform the lives of young people with achondroplasia who courageously endure lifelong complications from short-limb dwarfism,” said Seng Cheng, senior vice-president and chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s rare disease research unit, in the press release. “Pfizer’s existing research programs for pediatric growth disorders provide a complementary setting for this potential breakthrough therapy.”