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Celgene to invest $15 million in Acetylon
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


BOSTON—Acetylon Pharmaceuticals has announced that Summit, N.J.-based Celgene Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of products for treating cancer and other immune and inflammatory conditions, will be investing a total of $15 million in Acetylon by way of the purchase of Series B-2 Preferred Stock. In addition, Mark Alles, Chief Commercial Officer at Celgene, will be serving as a non-voting observer to Acetylon's board of directors. The equity purchase agreement does not grant Celgene any rights or options to Acetylon's technology.  
"Celgene is a leader in developing and delivering transformational therapies for the treatment of blood cancers, and their investment in Acetylon further validates the rapid progress and therapeutic promise of our selective HDAC inhibitor drug development programs," Walter C. Ogier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Acetylon, said in a press release. "The potential synergistic combination of Celgene's class-leading myeloma drug, Revlimid (lenalidomide), with Acetylon's selective HDAC6 inhibitor, ACY-1215, in clinical trials is an exciting prospect for the treatment of patients with progressive disease. In addition to Celgene's funding, we will also welcome their contribution of clinical and commercialization expertise to our organization as we advance and expand our clinical trials program over the coming year."  
Acetlyon's current focus is the development of potential drug candidates based on next- generation Class II-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. HDAC6, a Class IIB enzyme, has gained attention as an important target in inflammatory disease, neurologic disease and broadly in cancer. Acetylon believes its next-generation, selective HDAC inhibitor compounds could result in enhanced clinical utility while reducing or eliminating the dangerous side effect currently associated with first-generation non-selective HDAC inhibitors, while providing enhanced disease response and outcomes in patients.  
Acetylon's lead HDAC6 inhibitor program focuses on enhancing drug potency as well as reducing or eliminating side effects that generally result from HDAC inhibition by way of highly selective targeting of the HDAC6 enzyme. Inhibition of this enzyme preserves normal gene expression in cells, minimizing patient toxicity, while concurrently severely disrupting diseased cells' ability to produce normal proteins. This inhibition also disrupts cells' ability to dispose of damaged misfolded proteins. Metabolically active cancer and autoimmune cells produce large amounts of misfolded proteins, and inhibiting HDAC6 increases the production and accumulation of this protein "waste," which in turn triggers self-destruction of diseased cells via apoptosis.  
"Our investment in Acetylon Pharmaceuticals reflects our continuing commitment to help patients with hematologic malignancies to gain access to disease-altering therapies that improve the lives of patients worldwide," said Alles in a press release. "Acetylon has established itself as the leader in developing next generation, selective HDAC inhibitors for cancers as well as non-cancer disease indications and we believe the Company's approach could significantly benefit patients."    
SOURCE: Acetylon press release
Code: E02091201



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