Astellas Pharma announced late Wednesday that it will acquire Propella Therapeutics for $175 million.
The deal will give the Japanese drugmaker access to Propella’s oncology platform, as well as PRL-02, an injectable next-generation androgen biosynthesis inhibitor for prostate cancer.
PRL-02 is currently in a Phase 1 trial, with a Phase 2a trial expected to start in 2024. The drug, which targets an enzyme that is linked to androgen production, builds upon previous drugs – like Janssen’s Zytiga – to achieve a similar benefit, but without some of Zytiga’s drawbacks.
Zytiga needs to be taken daily orally, while a PRL-02 injection would last for 12 weeks. Because of this, Propella believes it will encourage patients to adhere to the medication regimen better.
“We are gratified that Astellas recognizes and values PRL-02’s potential as a best-in-class therapeutic for the treatment of men with prostate cancer,” Propella CEO William Moore said in a statement. “We are delighted that Astellas has chosen PRL-02 for further development and we are committed to supporting Astellas’ plans to accelerate PRL-02 development to improve treatment options for prostate cancer patients globally.”
If PRL-02 proves to be effective and wins approval, it would be yet another contender against Zytiga, which once brought in nearly $2 billion in revenue for Johnson & Johnson but has since lost power to a number of generics that have entered the market.
The acquisition marks the latest in a series of major transactions for Astellas, which also recently inked a $21 million collaboration with PeptiDream to develop protein degraders for undruggable proteins.
Before that, Astellas entered into an exclusive license agreement with Kate Therapeutics to pick up KT430, an investigational gene therapy for myotubular myopathy.
Astellas’ biggest acquisition, which was also one of the largest the industry has seen this year, was its $5.9 billion deal in May to acquire Iveric Bio. The manufacturer bought Iveric Bio to boost its ophthalmology portfolio, noting that the biotech had promising programs including avacincaptad pegol for the treatment of geographic atrophy.
Looking ahead, the transaction with Propella is expected to close before March 2024.
“The acquisition fits with Astellas’ strategy to provide patients with therapeutic options for diseases with high unmet medical needs,” added Astellas CEO Naoki Okamura. “We believe that the synergy with Astellas’ global development and commercialization capabilities in the cancer and urology fields will accelerate the development of PRL-02 and deliver new value to patients with prostate cancer.”