As lead drug flopped and AbbVie collab dissolved, cancer biotech resorts to buying rare disease company – Endpoints News

Ever since disappointing late-stage data on its cancer drug tanked Idera Pharmaceuticals’ stock last year (unhelped by an ill-fated collaboration with AbbVie), execs have been tightening the belt while searching for something — anything — that might dig the company out of its hole.

More than a year later, they finally found it.

In an acquisition that is reminiscent of a reverse merger, Idera is buying private biotech Aceragen in an all-stock deal. Instead of cancer, Idera will now be focused on rare, orphan pulmonary and rheumatic diseases. Specifically, it’s placing its hopes on ACG-701 in cystic fibrosis and melioidosis, and ACG-801 in Farber disease.

Together, the companies say their cash pool will provide a runway into Q3 2023, by which time Aceragen expects to have read out key clinical data.

Vincent Milano

“After a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives, we and our Board of Directors believe this acquisition represents the highest potential value creation opportunity for Idera’s stockholders,” said Vincent Milano, Idera’s CEO, who will now hand his job to Aceragen CEO John Taylor and transition to a board chair role.

Idera’s former lead asset, tilsotolimod, is a toll-like receptor 9 agonist that initially spurred promising response rates in melanoma but ultimately flunked a Phase III trial. Combinations with drugs from AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb did not produce good enough data, either, and AbbVie ultimately cut a trial short.

While it had originally hoped to out-license the drug, Idera eventually opened up its scope for the strategy alternatives it could consider.

The biotech estimates that Aceragen’s lead programs will have a combined annual peak sales potential of $650 million. But it’s still got a lot to prove.

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