Acorda Therapeutics has agreed to buy Finland's Biotie Therapies in a $363m deal that swells its pipeline of Parkinson's disease (PD) drug candidates.
The acquisition gives Acorda rights to Biotie's tozadenant (SYN115), an adenosine A2a receptor antagonist which is in a phase III trial - with results expected before the end of 2017 - that could form the basis of marketing applications.
If successful, the drug could be the first in a new class of PD drugs that potentially could restore motor function without some of the troubling side effects of current dopamine-based treatments.
Biotie published results from a placebo-controlled phase IIb clinical trial in Lancet Neurology in 2014 showing that treatment with tozadenant was associated with a reduction in 'off' episodes - when symptoms such as muscle stiffness, slow movements, and difficulty starting movements (freezing) re-emerge despite the use of medicines.
The drug also performed better than placebo on PD symptoms rating scales as well as doctor- and patient-reported clinical global impression (CGI) scales.
Acorda chief executive Ron Cohen said the company is hoping to file for approval of tozadenant by the end of 2018, and that the acquisition gives it three clinical-stage PD candidates, including its own CVT-301 (inhaled levodopa) candidate which is in phase III testing.
The deal will also give Acorda four phase III programmes that - if successful - could add sales of $1bn or more to its sales in the coming years. Tozadenant itself has been tipped to become a $400m product.
Tozadenant had originally been partnered with UCB, but the pharma group handed rights back to Biotie after deciding it was not a core project. At the time, UCB said the decision did not reflect any safety or efficacy concerns with the drug. The compound was discovered by Roche and out-licensed to Biotie.
Aside from tozadenant, Biotie also has serotonin 5-HT6 and 5-HT2A receptor antagonist SYN-120 in phase II trials for PD- and Alzheimer's disease-related dementia (partnered with Lundbeck), as well as vascular adhesion protein-1 (VAP-1) antibody BTT1023 for primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Biotie also has a royalty stream from Lundbeck's sales of Selincro (nalmefene), which was launched in 2013 for the treatment of alcohol dependency.