Esperion’s search for cholesterol-lowering projects has seen it strike a small deal with Serometrix, a private US biotech, covering PCSK9 inhibition. Unlike Amgen’s Repatha and Sanofi/Regeneron’s Praluent, anti-PCKS9 antibodies, the work Esperion has bought into, for $12.5m up front, relates to an oral small molecule. An oral PCSK9 inhibitor could provide an additional non-statin treatment between statins and injectable PCSK9 inhibitors, Esperion said in a statement. EvaluatePharma data reveal just one other oral PCSK9 project in development, the subject of a deal between Dogma Therapeutics and Astrazeneca last September. The data also reveal a second asset, SX-PCK9, which Portola had licensed from Serometrix back in 2016, but which is now discontinued. The Serometrix/Esperion asset has a further quirk: rather than being a competitive inhibitor it acts allosterically, meaning that its aim is to alter the enzyme by binding to part of the protein that is not its active site. Serometrix’s oral small-molecule work also targets CTLA-4 and PD-(L)1, an approach also attempted by Curis and Aurigene. The promise notwithstanding, Stifel analysts today were unimpressed by the preclinical deal, saying Esperion would do better to put its cash towards commercialising Nexlizet/Nexletol.