(Adds details, shares)
By Natalie Grover
Sept 29 Amgen Inc said on Thursday it
would buy a stake in Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc and
collaborate with the company to develop gene-silencing therapies
for heart disease.
Arrowhead will get $35 million up front and a $21.5 million
injection from Amgen that will give the world's No. 1 biotech
company by market value an equity stake of 4.5
Pasadena, California-based Arrowhead will also eligible for
up to $617 million in further milestone and equity payments.
Shares of the company, whose shareholders include BlackRock
Inc, Novartis AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co
, rose as much as 15 percent to $8.09 in early trading.
Arrowhead, along with competitors such as Alnylam
Pharmaceuticals Inc, Ionis 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
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
Under the first agreement, Amgen will get an exclusive
global license to Arrowhead's ARC-LPA program, which has not
been tested in humans.
The RNAi drug is 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.
So far, there is no treatment for the condition.
Under the second agreement, Amgen will receive an option to
an exclusive global license for a RNAi therapy for an
undisclosed cardiovascular target.
Amgen has a growing suite of cardiovascular therapies, 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.
Amgen's shares were down 0.4 percent at $169.07.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)