Akarna Therapeutics Ltd., a privately held biopharmaceutical company, announced today that it has been acquired by Allergan plc. Allergan obtains rights to AKN-083, Akarna’s lead product candidate for the potential treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other liver diseases.
Under the terms of the agreement, Allergan acquired Akarna for an upfront cash payment of $50 million and success-based development, regulatory and sales milestones.
“We are excited to be working with Allergan, a company that shares our vision of developing best-in-class treatments for NASH,” stated Dr. Raju Mohan, Chief Executive Officer of Akarna. “Allergan shares our commitment to help patients with NASH live longer, healthier lives.”
Akarna’s investors include New Science Ventures, LLC, a New York-based venture capital firm; Third Point Ventures, the emerging technology investment arm of Third Point LLC; and Forbion Capital Partners, a life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands and Germany. Moelis & Company LLC acted as financial advisor to Akarna. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP acted as legal counsel to Akarna.
NASH is a progressive form of fatty-liver disease that has been directly associated with diabetes and obesity. Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver induces chronic inflammation, which causes progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and eventually end-stage liver disease. The prevalence of NASH is increasing worldwide as diabetes and obesity reach epidemic proportions yet there are currently no approved therapies. It is estimated that as many as 5% of the US population has NASH with about eight million patients worldwide with advanced disease. NASH is projected to become the leading indication for liver transplant by 2020.
FXR is a nuclear hormone receptor expressed in the liver, intestine, kidney and fat. FXR is a master regulator of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, bile-acid homeostasis, inflammation and fibrosis, all of which are associated with the pathology and progression of NASH. FXR is recognized as a clinically validated target for NASH and other liver diseases, such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).
Akarna’s lead product candidate, AKN-083, is a small molecule, non-bile acid FXR agonist that has high affinity, potency and selectivity for FXR and has demonstrated robust in vivo proof of concept in animal models of steatosis and fibrosis. AKN-083 has a pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile that may provide a broad therapeutic window in which to significantly increase the activity of FXR in the target tissue, thereby having a profound impact on fibrosis, the key underlying pathology of NASH.
About Akarna Therapeutics
Akarna Therapeutics is a privately held biopharmaceutical company developing novel small molecule therapeutics that target inflammatory and fibrotic diseases for which there is no approved treatment. Akarna’s lead program is a potential best-in-class FXR agonist for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Akarna’s lead product candidate is currently in preclinical, IND-enabling toxicology and safety pharmacology studies. Akarna is a UK-registered company with offices in Cambridge, UK and San Diego, USA. For more information, please visit us at www.akarna.com.
Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN), headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, is a bold, global pharmaceutical company and a leader in a new industry model – Growth Pharma. Allergan is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercializing branded pharmaceuticals, devices and biologic products for patients around the world.
Allergan is an industry leader in Open Science, the Company’s R&D model, which defines our approach to identifying and developing game-changing ideas and innovation for better patient care. This approach has led to Allergan building one of the broadest development pipelines in the pharmaceutical industry with 65+ mid-to-late stage pipeline programs in development.
For more information, visit Allergan’s website at www.allergan.com.
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Last updated on: 20/09/2016
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