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Vertex Strengthens its Position in Nephrology and Buys Alpine Immune Sciences for $4.9 Billion

Vertex announced plans to acquire Alpine Immune Sciences for $4.9 billion, primarily for its experimental drug povetacicept to treat IgA nephropathy. Vertex will pay $65 per share, a significant premium to Alpine’s closing price. The acquisition deepens Vertex’s pipeline in kidney disease, aligning with CEO Reshma Kewalramani’s background in nephrology. Povetacicept has shown promising efficacy in IgA nephropathy and other autoimmune kidney diseases.




Biotech Vertex announced plans to shell out $4.9 billion for Alpine Immune Sciences and its experimental drug povetacicept to treat IgA nephropathy, a kidney disease that has attracted growing interest from big drug companies and other investors.

At $65 a share, Vertex will pay a substantial premium to Alpine, whose shares closed Tuesday at $37.57. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, Vertex said.

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The acquisition is also one of the first major bets for Kewalramani, who became CEO of Vertex in 2020

Before entering pharmaceuticals, Kewalramani was a nephrologist, and Alpine’s program deepens Vertex’s pipeline in kidney disease, which includes other drugs in the clinical phase.
Vertex ended 2023 with over $10 billion in cash and cash equivalents, but so far the biotech has preferred to rely on internal R&D activities and partnerships with CRISPR Therapeutics on specific technologies, such as CRISPR/Cas9.

Vertex made its name in the field of cystic fibrosis, but in recent years it has expanded to focus on a variety of research and development projects, from pain to diabetes to sickle cell disease.

Povetacicept’s Therapeutic Potential

In announcing the deal with Alpine, Vertex called povetacicept a “pipeline-in-a-product,” suggesting it will consider several other indications for the drug while pursuing the renal indication.

Alpine’s lead molecule, povetacicept (ALPN-303), is a highly potent and effective dual antagonist of BAFF (B-cell activating factor) and APRIL (a proliferation-inducing ligand).

During Phase 2, povetacicept demonstrated potential best-in-class efficacy in IgA nephropathy (IgAN). IgAN is a serious, progressive autoimmune disease of the kidney that can lead to end-stage renal disease. There are no approved therapies that target the underlying cause of IgAN.

At the same time as today’s announcement, the Seattle biotech shared updated data on povetacicept at the World Congress of Nephrology. In a Phase 1b/2a study, patients who received an 80 mg dose experienced a 64.1% reduction from baseline in urinary protein-to-creatinine ratio at 36 weeks, a measure indicative of kidney function, he said. Alpine. The company plans to enter Phase 3 in the second half of this year.

Due to its mechanism of action as a dual BAFF/APRIL antagonist, povetacicept has the potential to benefit patients with other serious autoimmune kidney diseases, such as membranous nephropathy and lupus nephritis, as well as autoimmune cytopenias. Clinical studies are ongoing in renal indications and autoimmune cytopenias.

IgA Nephropathy

IgAN is the most common cause of primary (idiopathic) glomerulonephritis worldwide, affecting approximately 130,000 people in the United States. Povetacicept is on track to enter Phase 3 clinical development in the second half of 2024.

IgA nephropathy, or IgAN, is a growing area of ​​investment for drug developers. Last year, Novartis agreed to pay $3.2 billion for Chinook Therapeutics, building the basis of its current IgAN drug.


(Featured image by julien Tromeur via Unsplash)

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Eva Wesley is an experienced journalist, market trader, and financial executive. Driven by excellence and a passion to connect with people, she takes pride in writing think pieces that help people decide what to do with their investments. A blockchain enthusiast, she also engages in cryptocurrency trading. Her latest travels have also opened her eyes to other exciting markets, such as aerospace, cannabis, healthcare, and telcos.