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Takeda acquires Inviragen for up to $250 million
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Takeda America Holdings Inc., have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Inviragen Inc., for an upfront payment of $35 million and future payments of up to $215 million linked to the progress of clinical development and achievement of key commercial milestones.
Headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., with facilities in Madison, Wis., and Singapore, Inviragen is a privately held biopharmaceutical company specializing in research and development of innovative vaccines for infectious diseases.
"We were looking for a partner for our dengue and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) vaccines," says Inviragen CEO Dr. Dan Stinchcomb. "We've got good data under our belt in terms of safety and immune response, so efficacy and manufacturability come next."
The company's lead candidate, DENVax, is a four-strain recombinant viral vaccine for the prevention of dengue infection. An administration schedule of two doses of DENVax over 90 days is currently being evaluated in Phase II clinical trials. In addition to DENVax, Inviragen's vaccine candidate to protect against HFMD caused by enterovirus 71 (EV71) has completed Phase I clinical testing. Inviragen has also developed a recombinant vaccine candidate to protect against chikungunya, currently in preclinical development.
"The acquisition of Inviragen supports Takeda's overall research and development programs, long-term growth strategy and commitment to improve health through innovation and new technology, " says Dr. Tadataka Yamada, Takeda's chief medical and scientific officer and member of the Takeda board of directors. "Coming less than a year after the acquisition of LigoCyte with the world's leading norovirus vaccine candidate, this illustrates Takeda's commitment to its global vaccine business and global public health."
Dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral illness in the world, and is one of four World Health Organization future vaccine priorities. It is estimated that about 400 million people worldwide are infected by the dengue virus each year, of which nearly 100 million develop clinical illness. Approximately 500,000 people are hospitalized and 20,000, mostly children, die from severe complications such as hemorrhagic fever. Currently there are only symptomatic treatments available for dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever, and the only means of prevention is through mosquito control. The number of reported symptomatic dengue infections has increased 30-fold in the past 50 years, and the global footprint of dengue is expanding.
HFMD epidemics occur annually throughout the Asia Pacific region, with millions of cases reported yearly since 2010. Chikungunya, which is a mosquito- transmitted virus, has produced epidemics in Africa, India, Asia and Europe. There are no specific treatments or cures for dengue, HFMD or chikungunya.
"It can be difficult to find investors for markets outside the U.S. and EU," Dan Stinchcomb notes, "but we were fortunate to close series A financing in 2009, with EDBI, Charter Life Sciences, Venture Investors and Phillip Private Equity Ph.D."
To preserve continuity and build upon Inviragen's success, Takeda will integrate the Inviragen team into Takeda's Vaccine Business Division. Inviragen's wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore, Inviragen Pte. Ltd., will enhance Takeda's core vaccine R&D capabilities. The impact of the acquisition on Inviragen's people and operations will be worked out over time, Stinchcomb says. Pending the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to close in the next few weeks.
"Approximately 3.6 billion people—half the world's population—live in dengue endemic countries, which tend to be low- to-middle income places," Stinchcomb states. "The public health market is low cost, but private markets in many countries exist and provide needed income for vaccine manufacturers. Finally there is the tourist market. So there are three tiers that support efforts to bring these life-saving vaccines to those who need them most."