Incyte is acquiring Escient Pharmaceuticals for $750 million, the pharma company announced Tuesday morning.

The deal will fortify Incyte’s dermatology pipeline with Escient’s once-daily small molecule antagonist, EP262, which is currently being investigated for its potential to treat several different mast cell-mediated diseases. 

This includes three skin inflammatory diseases — atopic dermatitis, chronic inducible urticaria and chronic spontaneous urticaria.

The deal will also bring EP547, another oral drug that aims to treat skin itching linked to kidney and liver disease, under Incyte’s wing.

“As a company dedicated to innovation and the discovery of transformative medicines, we are excited to add EP262 and EP547 to our portfolio,” Incyte CEO Hervé Hoppenot said in a statement.

Incyte has so far developed JAK inhibitor Opzelura, a cream approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2022 for treating nonsegmental vitiligo.

On its website, Incyte notes that it’s currently exploring the potential of other JAK inhibitors for various immune-mediated skin conditions with a high unmet need, including atopic dermatitis, vitiligo and hidradenitis suppurativa.

In preclinical studies, EP262 improved atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions and markers of type 2 inflammation. In a Phase 1 study, the drug showed it was safe and well-tolerated in 64 patients.

“EP262 and EP547 are complementary additions to our portfolio, providing an opportunity to leverage our expertise, address the needs of patients with inflammatory diseases and additional potential launch opportunities starting in 2029,” Hoppenot said.

Incyte noted that the acquisition will support its expanding research and development (R&D) in inflammation and autoimmunity.

Incyte has banked on bringing in celebrity names to market Opzelura since its approval, including actor Morgan Freeman, who narrated a one-minute ad launched in early 2023.

Mandy Moore also joined in on Incyte’s Moments of Clarity campaign, which highlighted the stories of patients with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis during National Eczema Awareness Month. Moore, who has atopic dermatitis herself, interviewed other patients with the condition as part of the initiative.

Women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm also partnered with Incyte last year to raise awareness about bone marrow transplants and graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a complication where the donor cells attack the patient’s body.

For an April 2024 article about Ono Pharmaceutical acquiring Deciphera Pharmaceuticals for $2.4B, click here.