AstraZeneca bags PhIIb-ready CKD drug in $272M Ardelyx partnership

A deal-hungry AstraZeneca ($AZN) has bagged a Phase IIb-ready compound for chronic kidney disease in a $272 million deal with Fremont, CA-based Ardelyx. The pharma giant agreed to pay $35 million upfront to partner on Ardelyx's lead drug, RDX5791, which spurs the body to bypass vulnerable kidneys when it flushes sodium.

In addition to up to $237.5 million in development milestones, Ardelyx has hung on to certain co-promotion rights in the U.S. and stands to gain commercialization milestones as well as a double-digit royalty from AstraZeneca--provided the partners make it all the way through to an approval. 

AstraZeneca was attracted to Ardelyx's NHE3 sodium transport inhibitor program, which is designed to force the body to flush sodium through feces rather than urine, sparing kidneys and helping patients with end-stage renal disease and chronic kidney disease. NHE3 is a protein needed to absorb sodium in the gut.

Back in the summer of 2011 Amgen joined a group of investors who put up $30 million in a B round for Ardelyx as it was preparing to put RDX5791 into a mid-stage study for irritable bowel syndrome.

"There is a significant unmet medical need to address the challenges caused by sodium and excess fluid in people with renal impairment," said Gunnar Olsson, vice president and head of CVGI Innovative Medicines at AstraZeneca. "With a novel mechanism of action, RDX5791 has the potential to have a major impact on how doctors treat these patients. We are tremendously excited to join forces with the Ardelyx team and draw on their depth of knowledge and insight."

- here's the press release