Takeda rides the neuro R&D Wave with latest biotech pact

Deal-making
This is the latest pact in a long ling of deals for both companies. (Image: Pixabay / geralt)

Perennial biotech dealmaker Takeda is at it again, striking a new pact with Wave Life Sciences with a focus on a series of difficult-to-treat neurological disorders.

The R&D and sales collab sees the pair work on antisense oligonucleotides for genetically-defined neurological diseases.

Oligonucleotides are designed to reduce the expression of disease-promoting proteins, or to transform the production of dysfunctional mutant proteins into the production of functional proteins, in what researchers hope will translate into a treatment.

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Breaking it down, there are two parts to the deal: first up, Wave will focus on programs targeting Huntington’s disease (HD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3).

On the financial side, Takeda will make an initial payment of $110 million to Wave and purchase $60 million of Wave’s ordinary shares at $54.70 per share; the pharma will also fund at least $60 million of Wave research over a four-year period to advance multiple preclinical targets selected by and licensed the Osaka-based company. 

RELATED: Pfizer inks a $911M discovery pact with Greg Verdine’s WaVe Life Sciences

On this side, both have the option to co-develop and co-sell (should clinical proof of mechanism be found) across three areas:

  • WVE-120101 and WVE-120102, which selectively target mutant huntingtin and are currently in Phase 1b/2a clinical trials for the treatment of HD;
  • WVE-3972-01, which targets C9ORF72 and is expected to be evaluated in clinical studies for the treatment of ALS and FTD beginning in Q4 2018;
  • And Program targeting ATXN3 for the treatment of SCA3.

The second part sees the Japanese pharma take the rights to exclusively license a number of preclinical programs targeting other neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s (which has not had the best few months, or in fact the best 15 years R&D-wise) and Parkinson’s disease.

And at any one time during a four-year term, the companies may partner up on up to six early-stage programs.

The pair are not the only ones focusing in on this area: Just last month, another antisense oligonucleotide player Stoke Therapeutics picked up a $40 million series A and former Sarepta CEO Ed Kaye. It also joins Atlantic Healthcare and Ionis Pharma in the antisense field, with the former kicked off a rolling FDA submission for its inflammatory bowel disease candidate in May, while the latter recently licensed a second gastrointestinal antisense drug to J&J’s Janssen.

“Takeda is deeply committed to pursuing innovative approaches in neuroscience research and development,” said Emiliangelo Ratti, head of the neuroscience therapeutic area unit at Takeda.

“Our collaboration with Wave will further enable our focus to accelerate the development of transformational therapies for patients for whom there are currently no treatments available.”

Daniel Curran, M.D., head of the center for external innovation at Takeda, added: “Wave’s expertise in optimizing oligonucleotides offers a complementary approach to programs that Takeda is currently pursuing for neurological disorders, maximizing our potential for success, and their pipeline and focus are closely aligned with our own.”