Japanese pharma company Astellas acquires Potenza Therapeutics

Astellas acquisition of Potenza : Japanese pharma company Astellas Pharma has exercised an option to acquire US-based Potenza Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $404.7 million.

The acquisition is a result of a collaboration agreement signed by the two pharma companies in 2015 to develop a portfolio of novel immuno-oncology (IO) therapies.

In the last three and a half years, Astellas and Potenza, through their research and development collaboration, have discovered and developed three investigational new drugs (INDs) – ASP8374/PTZ-201, ASP1948/PTZ-329 and an anti-NRP1 antibody.

The three discovered drugs are said to have the potential to treat different types of cancers that are non-responsive or resistant to the present generation of IO therapies.

Astellas acquisition of Potenza
Astellas acquisition of Potenza. Image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

ASP8374/PTZ-201 is an anti-TIGIT antibody while ASP1948/PTZ-329 is an anti-NRP1 antibody (Treg function inhibitor), which are both going through phase 1 clinical studies as of now. ASP1951/PTZ-522, on the other hand, is a novel format GITR agonistic antibody, which recently achieved IND clearance.

Kenji Yasukawa – President and CEO of Astellas, commenting on Astellas acquisition of Potenza, said: “This transaction underscores Astellas’ commitment to innovation and scientific partnerships to advance our creation of value for patients.

“In oncology, Astellas has focused on developing treatments for unmet medical needs with novel mechanisms of action and modalities. We believe the novel assets we have developed with Potenza have the potential to make an even more pronounced difference for patients in need.”

The clinical IO therapies developed through the partnership could also provide a platform for IO combinations with the Japanese pharma company’s existing non-IO programs for life cycle management and novel IO combinations in the future.

Following the acquisition, Potenza will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas, thereby setting up a competitive and fully owned clinical IO pipeline.

Astellas has paid an upfront fee of $164.6 million to Potenza for the acquisition and the latter’s shareholders will stand to receive further payments totaling up to $240.1 million based on the progress of various programs that are in clinical development.

Commenting on Astellas acquisition of Potenza, Dan Hicklin – President and CEO of Potenza, said: “We are extremely proud of what the experienced Potenza team has accomplished to discover and create innovative therapeutics for the treatment of cancers.

“Over the past three and a half years, we have enjoyed a successful and productive partnership with Astellas. I am pleased that these therapies will now have access to the resources of a large international company, with world-class R&D and the strategic and financial backing to support the development of these innovative potential new medicines for cancer patients in need.”

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