Shionogi buys Qpex Biopharma for $140M, expands antimicrobial pipeline

Mike Dudley, Qpex

Shionogi buys Qpex Biopharma for $140M, expands antimicrobial pipeline

Published: Jun 26, 2023

By Connor Lynch


Japanese pharma Shionogi has struck a deal to acquire San Diego-based Qpex Biopharma for a potential $140 million, bringing the privately-held company’s novel antimicrobial xeroborbactum into Shionogi’s development pipeline, the companies announced Monday.

In addition to the $100 million upfront being offered to Qpex shareholders, there’s another $40 million potentially up for grabs if the company meets certain development and regulatory milestones.

The move gives Shionogi exclusive development, manufacturing and marketing rights for xeroborbactum, a novel beta-lactamase inhibitor developed by Qpex.

The inhibitor works by inhibiting beta-lactamases, which are a type of enzyme that induces resistance to beta-lactamase antibiotics. Beta-lactamase antibiotics include penicillins, cephems, and carbapinems.

Bacteria achieve resistance to these antibiotics by using those enzymes to break them down. However, by inhibiting those enzymes, xeroborbactum and other beta-lactamase inhibitors can enhance the efficacy of those antibiotics to work against resistant bacteria. Xeroborbactum also presents a broad inhibitory spectrum that targets multiple classes of beta-lactamases, including several that cannot be inhibited by other existing inhibitors.

Qpex presented Phase I results of xeroborbactum in early 2022, which evaluated the effectiveness of meropenem, an antibiotic, combined with xeroborbactum. The results demonstrated the combination was “very active” against 223 isolates of Enterobacterales, inhibiting between 97.3% and 99.6% of isolates at concentrations of less than 8mg per liter.

Shionogi will also be able to advance the development of the drug and leverage Qpex’s capabilities and external network, both of which align well with the company’s goals and capabilities, opening opportunities for collaboration as well as pipeline expansion, the Japanese pharma said in a statement.

Qpex has two xeroborbactum-based clinical-stage programs.

The first is an IV-administered drug meant for the treatment of infections caused by Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Enterobacterales. The other is an orally-administered treatment for infections in the outpatient or community setting caused by Fluoroquinolone, Cephalosporin or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales, all of which are drug-resistant, Gram-negative bacteria.

Qpex has been supported by the U.S. government since it was spun out of The Medicines Company in 2018, with the goal of developing solutions to drug-resistant infections and funding provided by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (BARDA).

“Joining Shionogi along with our collaboration with BARDA will help drive the availability of new products for treating drug-resistant infections worldwide,” Qpex CEO Michael N. Dudley said in a statement.

Drug-resistant antibiotics are a global health concern, with the CDC estimating more than 35,000 people in the U.S. alone die each year because of antibiotic-resistant infection. Worldwide numbers may be as high as 1.27 million direct deaths, and five million associated with antibiotic resistance annually.

Source: BioSpace