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Shire boosts rare disease portfolio with $260m Lumena deal

Acquisition of US company will bring two mid-stage candidates for rare liver diseases

Shire PharmaceuticalsShire has agreed a deal to buy US company Lumena Pharmaceuticals for upwards of $260m, bolstering its pipeline of rare disease candidates.

Shire - which has itself been the subject of merger speculation with Allergan - said buying Lumena would provide two drugs in mid-stage clinical trials for rare liver diseases that will complement its own gastrointestinal drug portfolio.

LUM001 and LUM002 are both inhibitors of the apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter, or ASBT, and are being tested as treatments for cholestatic liver diseases, which occur when the flow of bile from the liver to the duodenum is reduced or blocked. ASBT is responsible for recycling bile acids back to the liver.

LUM001 is being tested in four clinical trials involving patients with primary biliary cirrhosis, Alagille syndrome, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, and could reach the market as early as 2016, according to Shire.

LUM002 will shortly start phase II testing in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a condition characterised by accumulation of fat in liver cells and inflammation in the liver.

The acquisition of Lumena ties in perfectly with Shire's recent escalation of its activities in rare diseases, which has been orchestrated by chief executive Flemming Ornskov since taking over leadership of the company last year.  

The company already had its own orphan brands such as Replagal (agalsidase alfa) for Fabry disease, Hunter's syndrome treatment Elaprase (idursulfase) and Vpriv (velaglucerase alfa) for Gaucher disease, when it bolted on Viropharma in a $4.2bn deal announced last November.

"We are excited by the possibilities of these new assets in liver disease," commented Ornskov, adding that that the acquisition of Lumena is also "a good fit" with the recent purchase of Fibrotech, which added pipeline projects in other fibrotic conditions including renal impairment.

"We have the resources, the infrastructure and the operating capacity to invest in these new potential growth drivers," he added.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th May 2014

From: Research, Sales

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