AstraZeneca nabs full control of Caelum, gaining late-stage amyloidosis drug

AstraZeneca announced Wednesday that its Alexion unit exercised an option to acquire all remaining equity in Caelum Biosciences under a deal potentially worth $500 million. The purchase will give the UK drugmaker full rights to CAEL-101, an experimental fibril-reactive monoclonal antibody for the treatment of light chain (AL) amyloidosis.

The compound is currently being investigated in the Phase III CARES clinical programme in combination with standard-of-care therapy in AL amyloidosis. The programme consists of two parallel trials in patients with Mayo stage IIIa disease and in patients with Mayo stage IIIb disease. AstraZeneca indicated that it will "accelerate" the studies following the purchase, which is expected to close on October 5.

Potential first-in-class drug

Marc Dunoyer, CEO of Alexion, which first acquired a stake in Caelum in 2019, said "CAEL-101 has the potential to be the first therapy to target and remove amyloid deposits from organ tissues, improve organ function, and, ultimately, lead to longer lives for these patients." Under the agreed terms, AstraZeneca will pay $150 million upon closing, with Caelum eligible for further regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to $350 million.

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