Asahi Kasei gets back late-stage clotting drug in Artisan buyout

Five years ago Japan's Asahi Kasei Pharma joined forces with a group of venture backers to launch Artisan Pharmaceuticals in Waltham, MA, licensing out a late-stage biologic as the investors put up $39 million in financing. Today it's completed a buyout that makes Artisan a wholly owned subsidiary. No terms were announced.

Artisan completed a Phase IIb of ART-123 last year and the Japanese pharma company says it concluded that the best way to speed it through a late-stage study and on to an approval would be by taking charge of the work. The treatment is recombinant human thrombomodulin alpha, which is marketed in Japan as Recomodulin. It's been under investigation here as a treatment for sepsis patients with coagulopathy, a clotting disorder that can trigger excessive bleeding.

Naoyuki Ono has taken charge of the biotech and Inder Kaul will stay on as CMO. The biotech's original investors included NGN Capital, JAFCO, New Leaf Venture Partners, Bio*One Capital and NovaQuest.

"This acquisition reflects Asahi Kasei Pharma's confidence in the global potential for ART-123," said Ono. "With the support of our parent company, AKP America plans to initiate a large, multi-country Phase III trial of ART-123 in 2012, following positive results from the Phase IIb study, the results of which we plan to release in 2012."

- here's the press release