Horizon Forges Autoimmune Disease Collaboration Valued at $1.5 Billion
Alpine Immune Sciences and Ireland’s Horizon Therapeutics forged a licensing and collaborative research and development agreement valued at up to $1.5 billion to generate up to four preclinical candidates for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Horizon will have exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the candidates from Seattle-based Alpine’s unique discovery platform. Overall, the collaboration and licensing agreement between the two cross-Atlantic companies includes a lead, potential first-in-class preclinical candidate, as well as a research collaboration to jointly develop the additional novel candidates.
The other candidates include previously undisclosed multi-specific fusion protein-based therapeutic candidates for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the companies said in the joint announcement.
Alpine will be responsible for advancing the candidate molecules to pre-defined preclinical milestones. From that point, Horizon will then assume responsibility for clinical development and potential commercialization activities and associated costs.
Elizabeth H.Z. Thompson, executive vice president of research and development at Horizon, said the partnership between the companies represents an opportunity for Horizon to move its mechanistic insights into innovative molecules by harnessing Alpine’s discovery platform in order to design multi-specific protein-based immunotherapies.
“This collaboration will expand Horizon’s early pre-clinical pipeline with complementary mechanisms of action to our current clinical stage therapeutics and provide our first pre-clinical, multi-specific development candidate,” Thompson said in a statement.
Under terms of the agreement, Horizon will make a $40 million upfront payment to Alpine Immune Sciences and a $15 million equity investment. Additionally, Alpine will be eligible for up to $381 million per program based on various milestones agreed upon by the companies. That totals up to $1.52 billion for Alpine, should all four programs prove to be successful and go on to commercialization. Alpine will also be eligible for tiered royalties on global sales if the assets make it to the market.
Stanford Peng, president and head of research and development at Alpine Immune Sciences, expressed excitement at the collaboration.
“With our combined expertise, we hope to accelerate and expand the potential clinical impact of our discovery platform on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases,” Peng said in a statement.
For Horizon, the collaboration comes weeks after the company announced it enrolled the first patient in a Phase IIb trial of hZN-825 for diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis, which is a subset of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma). The study is assessing a lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 (LPAR1) antagonist. The trial is expected to enroll up to 300 patients. Systemic sclerosis is a rare, chronic, autoimmune disease that is marked by fibrosis across the body, including the hands, arms, legs and face. It can progress to internal organ damage, including interstitial lung disease, in up to 80% of patients.