Takeda goes with its gut again as it strikes $50m deal with Enterome

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Enterome must be doing something right in the microbiome space: Takeda yesterday announced its second deal in two years with the private French biotech. Alongside the $50m up-front fee and up to $640m of milestones, what is more interesting is the equity stake the Japanese company has taken in Enterome, which could fuel speculation of a buyout. For now Takeda is taking on EB8018, a small molecule drug that blocks the activity of FimH in patients with Crohn's disease – phase I results are due at the end of the year and the collaboration with Takeda will enable phase II trials to start in the first quarter of 2019. Following high-profile failures, interest in the microbiome space has recently been revived by research showing responses to anticancer checkpoint blockade could be determined by patients’ gut bacteria. Enterome already has a collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb in a currently undisclosed indication to help boost the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors.  And while Takeda ostensibly seems to be using EB8018 to add to a GI franchise led by its blockbuster Entyvio, the Japanese group, which last year spent $5.2bn acquiring Ariad, might be thinking how it could use Enterome to gain a competitive advantage for its fledging oncology franchise. 

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