Small molecule M&A round-up: Roche buys Jecure, Arsanis and X4 merge

Bored of biologics? Tired of T-cells? Well BioProcess Insider takes a look at some of the big developments in the small molecule world.

First up in this compendium is Swiss pharma giant Roche. The firm has acquired San Diego, California-based Jecure Therapeutics through its Genentech division.

While Genentech is synonymous with biologics, Jecure’s business focuses on small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and liver fibrosis. Its lead candidate is an inhibitor of Nucleotide-binding oligomerization (NOD)-like Receptor Family Pyrin Domain Containing Protein 3 (NLRP3), a novel target and pro-inflammatory driver of NASH.

Image: iStock/Skarie20

“Genentech has an extensive history of translating pioneering science into transformative medicines,” said Jeffrey Stafford, CEO of Jecure. “The acquisition of Jecure provides a unique opportunity to bring novel NLRP3 inhibitors to patients.”

Roche’s global head of Pharma Partnering James Sabry added the firm is “excited to combine Jecure’s portfolio with our discovery and development capabilities, as well as our expertise in NLRP3 biology, to potentially help people with inflammatory diseases.”

Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Land of the rising ‘Sun’

Over to Japan, and branded and generic dermatology-focused drugmaker Pola Pharma is set to be bought by India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.

The deal brings Sun Pharma two manufacturing facilities in Saitama, just North of Tokyo, with topical product and injectable manufacturing capabilities. It also brings Sun Pharma R&D capabilities to develop new technologies and formulations.

The deal is in line with Sun’s global dermatology strategy, Sun Pharma’s EVP Kirti Ganorkar said. “Pola Pharma is a leading dermatology company and it will help us to launch our speciality and generic dermatology products in the Japanese market in future.”

He added: “We also get access to local manufacturing capability enabling us to serve the Japanese pharmaceutical market more effectively.”

In 2017, Pola Pharma made $108 million (€96 million) in sales. The equity consideration, on debt free and cash free basis, for the 100% stake in Pola Pharma is approximately $1 million.

Arsanis and X4

And finally, clinical-stage monoclonal antibody developer Arsanis has agreed to merge with X4 Pharmaceuticals.

X4’s lead candidate X4P-001 is a small molecule that inhibits the binding of chemokine CXCL12 to C-X-C receptor type 4 (CXCR4), and is set to enter Phase III trials next year for the treatment of Warts, Hypogammaglobulinemia, Immunodeficiency, and Myelokathexis (WHIM) syndrome.

“The merger with Arsanis would provide X4 with additional financial resources, bolster our management, clinical development and regulatory teams and enhance our research and development capabilities in Europe through Arsanis’ Vienna facility,” said X4 CEO Paula Ragan.

“We believe this merger has the potential to be a transformative transaction for X4 that would position us well as we embark on the initiation of our global Phase 3 program and develop commercialization plans in WHIM syndrome and as we further develop our pipeline for other rare disease indications.”

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