The Belgium-based company UCB announced that it has completed the acquisition of US-based Ra Pharmaceuticals located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which began last October. Former Ra Pharma shareholders received $48 in cash for each share of the company held at the closing, with a total cash transaction value of approximately $2.3 billion (€2.1 billion).
The closing of the acquisition also involves an update of UCB’s 2020 financial plan. For the current year, the company is targeting revenues between $5.50 billion (€5.05 billion) and $5.60 billion (€5.15 billion).
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UCB is accelerating its long-term innovation capabilities
The Belgian multinational will increase its potential in the treatment of myasthenia gravis thanks to zilucoplan, a peptide inhibitor of complement factor V (C5) currently in Phase III trials. The drug is in addition to a pipeline that already includes rozanolixizumab, a subcutaneously administered monoclonal antibody directed against FcRn (neonatal Fc receptor), also in Phase III.
UCB has also been awarded Ra Pharma’s ExtremeDiversity platform, which allows the production of synthetic macrocyclic peptides capable of combining the diversity and specificity of antibodies with the pharmacological properties of small molecules. The platform will accelerate the company’s long-term innovation capabilities.
“In the last 15 months we have taken several significant steps in our strategic growth path, in particular the Accelerate and Expand phase,” said Jean-Christophe Tellier, CEO of UCB. “This acquisition is a key part of this progress and an excellent complement to our strategy, which further increases our strong internal growth potential. Zilucoplan offers us the opportunity to become a leader in the treatment of people suffering from myasthenia gravis, an orphan neurological disease mediated by autoantibodies, with important unmet medical needs. It also strengthens our neurological and immunological areas, with both early and advanced projects, and adds a highly productive technology platform to our innovation engine,” Tellier concluded.
Zilucoplan is a synthetic macrocyclic peptide
The candidate drug zilucoplan is a synthetic macrocyclic peptide that inhibits complement factor V, to be administered subcutaneously once a day, currently in Phase III trials for the treatment of myasthenia gravis, with results expected in early 2021. The molecule may potentially aspire to additional indications in immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other complement-mediated disorders with unmet medical needs.
In December 2019, Ra Pharma started the phase II clinical trial of zilucoplan for the treatment of IMNM. The candidate is also one of the first drugs to be selected for evaluation in a multicenter ALS study.
An extended-release formulation of zilucoplan and a potential first-class small oral C5 inhibitor are also in the early stages of development.
Myasthenia Gravis is a chronic autoimmune condition
It is a chronic autoimmune condition in which autoantibodies attack acetylcholine receptors at the neuro-muscular junction, interrupting the transmission of nerve stimuli to muscles and causing muscle weakness and fatigue. The disease affects men and women of all ages and races in the same way.
Myasthenia gravis is a rare disease that affects nearly 200,000 patients in the United States, the European Union and Japan. Sufferers may experience a number of symptoms including drooping eyelids and double vision, as well as severe muscle weakness that can become potentially lethal if it gets to the breathing muscles.
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