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AstraZeneca PLC acquires Probiodrug’s CDK9 inhibitor program
HALLE/SAALE, Germany—Probiodrug AG (Probiodrug) announced today the transfer of its experimental cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) inhibitor program to AstraZeneca. The transaction includes the sale to AstraZeneca of a lead molecule and back-up compounds with the associated intellectual property. CDK9, which has been implicated in the transcriptional regulation of genes involved in proliferation and inflammation, is a promising target for the treatment of both cancer and inflammatory diseases. Financial terms of the asset purchase were not disclosed.
“AstraZeneca is an excellent party to take over our promising CDK9 inhibitor program,” commented Hendrik Liebers, CFO of Probiodrug. “This transaction is consistent with our strategy to focus our resources exclusively on Alzheimer’s disease.”
The Probiodrug acquisition follows closely on the heels of the December 19, 2013 announcement that AstraZeneca will acquire the entirety of Bristol- Myers Squibb’s interests in the companies’ diabetes alliance for an initial consideration of $2.7 billion on completion and up to $1.4 billion in regulatory, launch and sales-related payments. AstraZeneca has also agreed to pay various sales-related royalty payments up until 2025. In addition, AstraZeneca may make payments up to $225 million when certain assets are subsequently transferred. The global agreement strengthens AstraZeneca’s commitment to diabetes, a key growth platform in a core strategic area for the company.
Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) are critical regulators of cell cycle progression and RNA transcription. A variety of genetic events cause over- activity of the cell cycle CDKs in cancer and their inhibition can lead to both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. CDK9 is associated with a gene that encodes the protein which is a member of the cyclin-dependent protein kinase (CDK) family. This protein forms a complex with and is regulated by its regulatory subunit cyclin T or cyclin K. HIV-1 Tat protein was found to interact with this protein and cyclin T, which suggested a possible involvement of this protein in AIDS. CDK9 is also known to associate with other proteins such as TRAF2, and be involved in differentiation of skeletal muscle.
Susan Galbraith, vice president and head of the Oncology iMed unit at AstraZeneca, added, “We are particularly interested in the development of targeted therapies for oncology, such as CDK9. We believe that Probiodrug’s CDK9 inhibitor program, while early stage, shows potential and we look forward to continuing its development.”
Probiodrug is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutic solutions to treat people with Alzheimer’s disease. The company has medical use and composition of matter patents related to the inhibition of glutaminyl cyclase, providing the company with a dominant position in this field of research, Probiodrug claims in a statement. Probiodrug is backed by institutions such as BB Biotech, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, Goodvent/IBG, HBM, TVM Capital, Life Sciences Partners, Biogen Idec New Ventures, CFH Group, funds managed by Wellington Management and private investors.
Probiodrug's core capabilities are based on its long-standing expertise in the elucidation of the structure and function of enzymes which play a central role in the maturation of hormones. Probiodrug was founded in 1997 by Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Demuth and Dr. Konrad Glund.
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in more than 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.