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Acquisition to Boost Development of Drugs for Neurogenic Conditions

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 20 Jun 2016
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According to a recent announcement, a privately held biotechnology/drug development company is to be acquired by one of the major pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The drug manufacturer Merck & Co. (Kenilworth, NJ, USA) has agreed to pay 500 million USD up front for Afferent Pharmaceuticals (San Mateo, CA, USA) and up to 750 million USD more if Afferent meets goals for approval and eventual sales of medicines in development.

Afferent Pharmaceuticals is a leader in the development of therapeutic candidates targeting the P2X3 receptor for the treatment of common, poorly managed, neurogenic conditions. P2X3 receptors are believed to play a key role in the sensitization of certain sensory nerves, notably C-fiber afferents. These nerves become activated and sensitized under pathological conditions mediated by a common cellular signal, ATP, when it is released in high concentrations due to cellular distress following injury or infection. Afferent’s compounds are designed to selectively block ATP activation of P2X3 channels, potentially reducing a range of sensory signs and symptoms.

Afferent’s lead investigational candidate, AF-219, is a selective, non-narcotic, orally-administered P2X3 antagonist currently being evaluated in a Phase 2b clinical trial for the treatment of refractory, chronic cough as well as in a Phase 2 clinical trial in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) with cough.

“Afferent has pioneered the clinical development of novel investigational candidates selectively targeting the P2X3 receptor, an exciting area of research,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to advancing these innovative molecules for patients with conditions like chronic cough, an area of significant unmet medical need.”

“This achievement is a reflection of the talent and hard work of the experienced Afferent team in advancing the science of P2X3 receptors and the clinical development of our novel therapeutic candidates,” said Kathleen Sereda Glaub, CEO of Afferent Pharmaceuticals. “We are very pleased to enter into this agreement given Merck’s reputation for maximizing opportunities around novel mechanisms. This agreement with Merck creates significant value for Afferent's shareholders while enhancing the potential of our portfolio to provide meaningful benefits to patients globally.”

Related Links:
Merck & Co.
Afferent Pharmaceuticals

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