Celgene drops option to buy Abide, bags preclinical drug

celgene
Celgene paid $50 million for an option on the first two Abide assets to reach the clinic. (Celgene)

Celgene has retooled its deal with Abide Therapeutics, dropping its takeout option and the drug that originally attracted it while picking up rights to another asset. The revisions see Abide regain control of a phase 2-ready CNS drug and pocket an upfront fee in exchange for an earlier-stage drug.

Summit, New Jersey-based Celgene paid $50 million for an option on the first two Abide assets to reach the clinic in 2014. And it handed over another $20 million to exercise its option on ABX-1431 two years later. The monoacylglycerol lipase (MGLL) inhibitor came through a phase 1b in Tourette syndrome late last year, at which point Abide hailed the safety and early signs of efficacy seen in the trial.

Months later, Celgene has walked away from the asset. Had Celgene stayed onboard, it would have been responsible for funding the phase 2 trial that Abide thinks the drug is now ready to enter.

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Celgene’s actions loosen, but don’t sever, the ties between the two businesses. The big biotech no longer has a stake in ABX-1431 or an option to acquire Abide. But it has secured worldwide rights to a preclinical-stage asset in exchange for an upfront fee and milestone payments of undisclosed size.

Abide said little about the preclinical program, ABX-1772, in its statement disclosing the changes but it shared some details in a previous version of its publicly disclosed pipeline. The document listed ABX-1772 as targeting MGLL—the same target as ABX-1431—and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). FAAH is another member of the serine hydrolase enzyme family that is at the heart of Abide’s R&D.

Abide pegged the dual targeting of MGLL and FAAH as a way to treat epilepsy but has sold up before learning whether that thinking translates into human testing. Focal seizures and rare epilepsy syndromes were also on Abide’s R&D roadmap for the CNS-penetrating dual inhibitor. Celgene will now take the drug forward as holder to the worldwide rights.

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