GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Altimmune, Inc. announced yesterday an agreement to acquire Spitfire Pharma, Inc., including its product candidate SP-1373 (to be renamed ALT-801), a potent GLP-1/glucagon receptor co-agonist for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The transaction is expected to close during July 2019, subject to customary closing conditions.
Spitfire, a portfolio company of Presidio Partners, was founded by John J. Nestor, Jr., Ph.D. and Velocity Pharmaceutical Development LLC, for the sole purpose of developing the NASH drug candidate, SP-1373. Under the agreement, Spitfire shareholders will receive an upfront payment of $5 million in Altimmune common stock, and will be eligible to receive an additional $8 million in future regulatory and clinical milestones payable in cash or common stock. Spitfire shareholders are also eligible to receive up to $80 million in sales-based milestones. The issuance of common stock to satisfy the milestone payments is subject to stockholder approval in accordance with Nasdaq rules.
“NASH is a significant unmet need. There are no approved treatments available, and prevalence is growing worldwide as a consequence of an expanding obesity epidemic. Compelling preclinical data generated by Spitfire suggests that ALT-801 could reverse obesity, a primary cause of NASH, thereby reducing excess liver fat, inflammation and fibrosis associated with the disease,” said Vipin K. Garg, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Altimmune. “The addition of this exciting product candidate to our portfolio is a transformative transaction for Altimmune.”
ALT-801 is a potent, peptide-based therapeutic candidate with balanced agonist activity on the GLP-1 and glucagon (GCGR) receptors. ALT-801 is designed to treat the underlying metabolic dysfunction that leads to NASH. Activating both the GLP-1 and the glucagon receptors results in appetite suppression, decreased insulin insensitivity, increased energy expenditure and substantial decreases in both liver and body fat in relevant animal models.
ALT-801 has a similar mechanism of action to the body’s natural dual-acting hormone, oxyntomodulin, which lowers food intake, stimulates energy expenditure and reduces body weight. The therapeutic candidate is designed to achieve glycemic control comparable to or better than the approved GLP-1 agonists, but with more robust weight loss with once-weekly subcutaneous dosing.
The ALT-801 acquisition could help build on the company’s liver disease expertise being developed in Altimmune’s HepTcell program for treating chronic hepatitis B, and dovetails with the company’s expertise in developing novel peptide-based therapeutics.
“We believe strongly in the potential of ALT-801 to become an important treatment for NASH and are excited to find a partner with the resources and experience to see this candidate through clinical development. ALT-801 offers a compelling value proposition, and we look forward to participating in its advancement as shareholders of Altimmune,” added David Collier, CEO of Velocity Pharmaceutical Development and managing director of Presidio Partners.