Alexion strengthens its grip on FcRn

The announcement of two deals today shows that Alexion has its eyes firmly on franchise protection. A partnership with Affibody builds Alexion’s existing presence in FcRn, an area that is still very much under development, while a collaboration with Zealand Pharma will see the companies develop novel peptide therapies for complement-mediated diseases, the big biotech’s existing area of expertise. Under the former deal Alexion has for $25m up front bought rights to ABY-039, a bivalent antibody-mimetic that targets FcRn. This hot area of research promises advances in the treatment of a range of IgG-mediated diseases; Alexion paid $400m for Syntimmune last September to gain Synt001, an IgG4 monoclonal antibody. The Syntimmune project is now called ALXN1830, and is administered intravenously, which is not ideal for chronic conditions. Step forward the subcutaneously delivered ABY-039, which Alexion describes as a high-affinity protein ligand with an extended half-life. Assuming that this field progresses successfully the Affibody deal could put Alexion in a very strong position in a few years’ time, particularly as there are very few clinical assets to choose from here. Argenx is considered to be leading, and this latest move by Alexion shows that the Belgian group cannot afford to trip up.

Targeting FcRn: clinical-stage projects
Project Company Mechanism  Administration 
Phase III
Efgartigimod Argenx Anti-FcRn Ab fragment IV; SC to enter phase II H1 2019
Phase II
Rozanolixizumab UCB Anti-FcRn MAb IV and SC; SC going forward
Synt001/ALXN1830 Alexion  Anti-FcRn MAb IV; plans to pursue SC
M281 Momenta  Anti-FcRn MAb IV; plans to pursue SC
Phase I
RVT-1401 Roivant Anti-FcRn MAb SC
ABY-039 Alexion/Affibody Anti-FcRn bivalent Ab mimetic SC
IV=intravenous. SC=subcutaneous. Source: EvaluatePharma, company websites.

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