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Amgen to buy Kai Pharmaceuticals for $315m

Will acquire rights to novel drug for hormone disorder

Amgen has said it is acquire US biopharma Kai Pharmaceuticals for an upfront payment of $315m.

Under the deal, Kai will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen, with Amgen also acquiring rights to Kai's lead product candidate, KAI-4169, in all countries excluding Japan where Kai has already made an agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical.

The compound is currently under investigation for use in the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who are on dialysis.

SHPT is when too much parathyroid hormone is produced by the parathyroid glands in the neck due to low levels of calcium in the blood.

This hormone causes calcium to be taken from the bone so more calcium can be reabsorbed by the intestines and kidney, leading to bone and joint pain, as well as limb deformities.

SPHT is a common occurrence in people with CKD who are on dialysis, due to an individual's inability to convert enough vitamin D so it can regulate calcium levels in the body.

Current treatments including dietary restriction of phosphorus, which can affect a person's calcium levels, as well as supplements with an active form of vitamin D

A group of medicines called phosphate binders are also used to reduce the absorption of phosphate.

KAI-4169 is being developed to work as an agonist of the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), which affects calcium levels by modulating the release of parathyroid hormone.

Phase II studies have demonstrated that the compound can sustain reductions in parathyroid hormone, phosphorus, calcium and FGF-23, all of which are markers of SPHT.

It was also shown to be well-tolerated among patients, according to Amgen.

"We are excited about acquiring Kai, as well as the opportunity to potentially deliver a novel therapy for chronic kidney disease patients on dialysis suffering from secondary hyperparathyroidism," said Dr Sean Harper, executive VP of R&D at Amgen.

According to Amgen, there are about 1.64m people with CKD who have SHPT in developed countries where data is available.

11th April 2012

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