Swiss biotech Melodia sings $275M song for Alivexis’ preclinical cathepsin C inhibitor

Switzerland’s Melodia Therapeutics has signed a $275 million biobucks deal to get its hands on Alivexis’ preclinical cathepsin C inhibitor.

Melodia said it will “rapidly initiate” IND-enabling activities for the candidate, dubbed MDI-0151, in preparation for phase 1/2a study in a range of refractory inflammatory diseases caused by excessive activation of neutrophils, such as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) associated vasculitis.

Researchers have already suggested that inhibiting the activity of cathepsin C, a lysosomal exo-cysteine protease, has the potential to treat various types of inflammatory disease, including bronchiectasis and ANCA-associated vasculitis.

Inhibiting cathepsin C is believed to have little effect on the immune function of neutrophils, meaning MDI-0151 has potential to treat various immune and inflammatory diseases without compromising the immune system, the companies explained in a June 21 release.

Melodia’s founding shareholder is Forty51 Ventures, an early-stage biotech investment firm that launched in 2022 and like Melodia is based in Basel, Switzerland. In today’s release, Forty51 described MDI-0151 as having “best-in-class, blockbuster potential.”

“Melodia aims to develop the program in a variety of underserved indications in the field of immunology,” Forty51 added. “Further announcements will follow shortly as Melodia advances this program expeditiously.”

In return for the worldwide rights to develop and commercialize MDI-0151, Alivexis is in line for an upfront payment, development and sales milestones that together top out at $275 million although the announcement didn’t provide a breakdown of the deal. The Japanese biotech will also receive royalties on net sales should MDI-0151 make it to market.

“This event marks a significant milestone for Alivexis and serves as validation of our drug discovery R&D team and platform, our proprietary pipeline of discovery programs, and our business model involving the use of our cutting-edge platform to accelerate clinical candidate discovery for diseases with high unmet need,” Alivexis CEO S. Roy Kimura, Ph.D., said in the release.

“This is the first of many licensing and collaboration agreements that we anticipate from our maturing portfolio of IND-ready candidate molecules in our pipeline and our unique and proven discovery platform,” Kimura added.

Tokyo-based Alivexis, which rebranded from Modulus Discovery in March, signed a partnership with Japanese pharma Astellas earlier this week to “discover new small molecule compounds which will regulate the function of a novel drug target molecule selected by Astellas.”