Motavizumab discontinuation could spur deals, progress in RSV arena

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) decision to halt development of motavizumab could spur interest in a handful of earlier-stage projects, including a compound from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Cubist Pharmaceuticals currently in Phase II development, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Last month, AstraZeneca ended its motavizumab program and wrote off $445 million. In the process, it lost its bid to gain an approval for a successor to its blockbuster Synagis. AstraZeneca acquired the compound when it bought MedImmune in 2007.

With the program now scuttled, Cubist and Alnylam have an opportunity. Indeed, a successful outcome would surely prompt Cubist to consider buying out its junior partner--and perhaps renew speculation about a larger company buying out Cubist, the WSJ reports. And other players are also looking to enter the RSV game. Rockville, MD-based Novavax, for example, recently announced it had begun enrolling patients for Phase I trials of its experimental RSV drug.

However, these companies need to be aware that AstraZeneca is still the undisputed leader in this space, the WSJ notes, and won't give up this position easily.

- get more from the WSJ
- check out the Novavax report from the Washington Business Journal