Investment digest: News from Pfizer, Bayer and Altimmune

Pfizer has completed its $340 million Theracon buy, Bayer pumps $250 million into allogeneic stem cell venture, and Altimmune set to buy NASH drug developer. Welcome to Bioprocess Insider’s investment round-up.

First up, Pfizer has added Therachon Holding AG to its business, bringing it assets in development for the treatment of achondroplasia and short bowel syndrome (SBS).

The deal, announced in May, saw Pfizer shell out $340 million (€300 million) upfront for the Swiss biotech but the Big Biopharma could pay a further $470 million in milestone payments relating to lead candidate TA-46.

Image: iStock/vitpho

TA-46 is a soluble recombinant human fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) in Phase I trials as a weekly subcutaneous injection for children and adolescents living with genetic condition achondroplasia.

“Therachon becoming part of Pfizer is representative of our Rare Disease team’s 30-year commitment to develop innovative medicines that address significant unmet medical needs of people with rare diseases,” said Seng Cheng, CSO of Pfizer’s Rare Disease Research Unit.

“We believe we can effectively advance the development of TA-46, which has the potential to be a first-in-class therapy for the treatment of achondroplasia.”

Bayer iPSCs

To German Biopharma Bayer next, and the firm has spent $250 million through its investment division Leaps by Bayer to help launch Century Therapeutics.

Century Therapeutics, created through a partnership between Versant Ventures and Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, will look to develop therapies for hematologic and solid malignancies using its induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology.

The allogeneic platform “enables multiple rounds of cellular engineering to produce master cell banks of modified cells that can be expanded and differentiated into immune effector cells to supply vast amounts of allogeneic, homogeneous therapeutic products,” the firm says.

“We are very excited about the potential of Century’s platform,” said Juergen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer. “It represents a unique opportunity in the development of next generation cell therapies that promise to address previously incurable cancers.”

Altimmune Spitfire

Finally, Maryland-based biotech Altimmune has agreed to buy Spitfire Pharma, adding lead candidate SP-1373, a potent GLP-1/Glucagon receptor co-agonist for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

“NASH is a significant unmet need. There are no approved treatments available, and prevalence is growing worldwide as a consequence of an expanding obesity epidemic,” said Altimmune CEO Vipin Garg.

“Compelling preclinical data generated by Spitfire suggests that ALT-801 could reverse obesity, a primary cause of NASH, thereby reducing excess liver fat, inflammation and fibrosis associated with the disease.”

Once the deal is complete, SP-1373 will be renamed ALT-801.

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