Principia, AbbVie call it quits on 2017 immunoproteasome deal

Axe and chopping block
The mutual breakup gives Principia full control as it chooses the "optimal development path" for the immunoproteasome-targeting program. (Pixabay/sierramurray)

AbbVie teamed up with Principia Biopharma in June 2017 to work on oral drugs that inhibit the immunoproteasome, a type of protein complex found in immune cells. The duo has now agreed to end the autoimmunity-focused deal, with Principia regaining the rights to the program. 

Under the deal, the partners shared the burden of research and preclinical studies. Once those were completed, AbbVie would assume responsibility for the clinical development and commercialization of any “viable compounds” that came out of the partnership. Neither financial terms nor a time period for the agreement were disclosed. 

AbbVie’s pulling out now means that Principia will be taking care of clinical development of the program solo. The most advanced immunoproteasome inhibitors in the program reached the lead-optimization stage. 

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“AbbVie has completed an initial evaluation of Principia’s highly selective, orally bioavailable covalent inhibitors of the immunoproteasome and, after an assessment of their biologic profiles relative to AbbVie’s desired disease areas of focus, has determined that there is no longer a strategic fit,” said Principia CEO Martin Babler in a statement. 

RELATED: Principia Biopharma lines up for $86M IPO 

David Goldstein, Ph.D., Principia’s chief scientific officer, framed getting the news as regaining control of the program: “With the program in advanced lead optimization, regaining worldwide rights provides Principia with the opportunity to capture the full value of the program and to select the optimal development path for these highly differentiated assets.” 

RELATED: Cedilla Therapeutics launches with $56M to target protein degradation in cancer 

South San Francisco-based Principia filed in August to raise up to $86.3 million in its Nasdaq IPO, eventually pricing the offering at $17 per share and raising $106.25 million. 

Its pipeline leaders are a pair of clinical-stage BTK inhibitors for rare autoimmune diseases. Its lead asset, PRN1008, posted positive phase 2 data for pemphigus last November, prompting it to start a phase 3 program for that indication. Principia is also developing it for immune thrombocytopenic purpura. A second BTK drug, Sanofi-partnered PRN2246/SAR442168, is in phase 1 trials for multiple sclerosis and other central nervous system disorders.

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