Sept 29 Amgen Inc said on Thursday it
would buy a stake in Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc and
team up with the company to develop gene-silencing therapies for
Pasadena, California-based Arrowhead will get $35 million up
front and will be eligible to receive up to $617 million in
milestone payments. It will also get $21.5 million from Amgen
through an equity investment.
Arrowhead, which had about 60.43 million shares outstanding
as of June 30, has a market value of about $425 million.
The company, along with drug developers such as Alnylam
Pharmaceuticals Inc and privately held Quark
Pharmaceuticals, focuses on ribonucleic acid interference
(RNAi), which aims to silence certain genes to curb the
production of disease-causing proteins.
RNAi has long interested drug developers, but has frequently
met with clinical failure.
Existing drugs, including monoclonal antibodies, work by
trying to inactivate disease-causing proteins by binding to
The license and collaboration deal includes two agreements,
under which Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen will take
charge of clinical development and commercialization.
Under the first agreement, Amgen will get an exclusive
global license to Arrowhead's ARC-LPA program, in which RNAi
molecules are designed to reduce elevated levels of a form of
cholesterol called Lp(a) that raises the risk of heart disease
caused by plaque build-up.
One in five people inherit high levels of Lp(a), which leads
to the gradual narrowing of arteries, limiting blood supply to
the heart, brain, kidneys and legs, thereby raising the risk of
blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
Under the second agreement, Amgen will receive an option to
an exclusive global license for a RNAi therapy for an
undisclosed cardiovascular target.
Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology company by market
value, has a growing suite of heart drugs, both on the market
and in development.
These include its potent, expensive new cholesterol fighter
Repatha, chronic heart failure treatment Corlanor, and omecamtiv
mecarbil, which is in the final stages of development.
Amgen announced last September that it would buy
biotechnology company Dezima Pharma BV, adding another
cholesterol drug to its pipeline.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)