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AZ boosts cardiovascular pipeline with US biotech acquisition

Its MedImmune biologics arm buys AlphaCore Pharma

MedImmune, AstraZeneca's biologics R&D divisionAstraZeneca's (AZ) biologics research and development arm MedImmune has acquired US biotech AlphaCore Pharma.

The deal gives AZ access to AlphaCore's ACP-501, a recombinant human lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) enzyme.

LCAT is a key component in the reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) system, which is thought to play a major role in driving the removal of cholesterol from the body and may be critical in the management of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. 

The LCAT enzyme could also play a role in a rare, hereditary disorder called familial LCAT deficiency (FLD) in which the LCAT enzyme is absent.

MedImmune's executive vice president Dr Bahija Jallal said: “As the science in this area continues to evolve, we are committed to exploring unique pathways that could lead to new combination or standalone therapies for patients living with chronic and acute cardiovascular diseases.

“Cardiovascular disease is projected to remain the single leading cause of death worldwide over the next decade and beyond. Through novel approaches like LCAT, we hope to shift the treatment paradigms in this area to help prevent and treat these conditions.”

Last year a phase I clinical trial of ACP-501 in patients with stable atherosclerosis met the primary safety and tolerability endpoints and saw no serious adverse events reported.

ACP-501 also met the study's secondary endpoints by “rapidly and substantially elevating” HDL cholesterol, MedImmune said, adding that data from the study would support the candidate's ongoing clinical development in patients with high-risk atherosclerosis, including acute coronary syndromes.

AlphaCore also began a phase I trial of ACP-501, which has been granted orphan drug designation by the European Medicines Agency, in stable coronary arterial disease last year.

AZ has a three-year plan to drastically reshape its approach to R&D, but cardiovascular and metabolic disease remains a core therapy area for the firm, in terms of both small and large molecule research.

Financial details of the deal with Ann Arbor, Michigan-based AlphaCore were not disclosed.

5th April 2013

From: Research

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