British newco KaNDy Therapeutics said to be in Allergan M&A crosshairs

Mary Kerr, NeRRe
KaNDy Therapeutics' Mary Kerr, M.D. (NeRRe Therapeutics)

Allergan, flush from a series of small and midsized deals over the past 18 months, is reported to be seeking a buyout of women’s health company KaNDy Therapeutics.

The report, coming out of Bloomberg and The Street and swirling on some Bio Twitter channels, states that the Botox-maker is “in advanced talks to buy KaNDy Therapeutics,” and that it could be valued at over $400 million in upfront and milestone payments. Neither company is making any formal comment on the reports.

This comes less than two months after Allergan struck a deal to acquire the floundering Repros Therapeutics, giving it the rights to a uterine fibroid drug that is on the cusp of phase 3, but comes with some safety caveats.

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KaNDy’s history is a short but interesting one: It came into being last fall after U.K. biotech NeRRe Therapeutics decided to streamline its R&D portfolio by setting up a brand-new company focusing on women’s health.

This company, KaNDy, was given the reins to develop NT-814, one of two phase 2 candidates developed at NeRRe. It is billed as a first-in-class neurokinin-1,3 receptor antagonist with potential to treat postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms (PMVMS) such as hot flashes and sleep disturbances.

That left NeRRe—which itself spun out of GlaxoSmithKline back in 2012 after the big pharma company decided to withdraw from neuroscience R&D—focusing its activities on its NK-1 antagonist program for neuronal hypersensitivity headed by orvepitant. Its managing director, Mary Kerr, originally moved to NeRRe from GSK, before landing at this latest biotech.

Announcing the spinoff last September, the two companies said that they had the same shareholder base, but that there was now flexibility to diversify and extend if necessary.

The biotech sees NT-814 as having the potential to become an important new therapeutic in women’s health, as neurokinin antagonism represents one of the few novel targets in the sector for more than two decades and could become a once-daily, nonhormonal therapy for postmenopausal symptoms.

The drug is heading for a phase 2b trial that will test its ability to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes at four and 12 weeks, with results expected within the next 12 to 18 months. In that time frame, KaNDy may also start initial studies in potential follow-up indications, which could include endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.

KaNDY is chaired by Iain Dukes, venture partner at OrbiMed, and is based at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst in the U.K.