VALBY, Denmark & SAN DIEGO—In addition to a new R&D foothold in San Diego, H. Lundbeck A/S is adding a unique discovery platform and a lead compound in an exploratory Phase 2a program for Tourette’s with its planned acquisition of Abide Therapeutics Inc.
Abide’s discovery platform is focused on harnessing the therapeutic potential of one of the largest and most diverse enzyme classes—the serine hydrolases—with the potential to deliver unprecedented compounds across a broad range of central nervous system (CNS) indications. In mammals, serine hydrolases represent roughly 1 percent of all proteins and have vital roles in many pathophysiological processes, including blood clotting, digestion, nervous system signaling, inflammation and cancer.
Under the terms of the definitive agreement the companies have inked, Lundbeck is to acquire Abide for $250 million as an upfront payment, plus additional development and sales milestones of up to $150 million.
“The acquisition of Abide provides us with a differentiated chemo-proteomic platform to discover new classes of drugs for a broad spectrum of brain diseases, starting with those that harness the therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system,”said Dr. Deborah Dunsire, president and CEO of Lundbeck. “Abide’s innovative R&D platform provides us with a unique opportunity to strengthen our pipeline now and well into the future, putting Lundbeck in position to deliver multiple new and transformative treatments for brain diseases.”
Abide’s lead molecule ABX-1431 is a potent selective inhibitor of the serine hydrolase monoacylglycerol lipase (MGLL) that potentiates endocannabinoid signaling to restore homeostatic balance in the central nervous system. It has the potential to address multiple indications in psychiatry and neurology, and is initially being explored in clinical trials as a first-of-its-kind compound for the treatment of Tourette syndrome (exploratory Phase 2a) and for neuropathic pain (Phase 1).
“Developing first-in-class CNS mechanisms requires in depth expertise across the spectrum of drug discovery and development. Lundbeck’s commitment to brain health convinced us that together this was the best way to attain Abide’s goal to develop novel therapeutics that make a fundamental difference in the lives of patients with a range of neurological and mood disorders. This, together with the support for the La Jolla discovery site, means that we can continue to leverage the insights of Ben Cravatt’s laboratory at Scripps Research and maintain our outstanding discovery team,” commented Alan Ezekowitz, CEO of Abide.
In addition to the clinical and preclinical programs targeting MGLL, Abide has a pipeline of inhibitors targeting other serine hydrolases that may be pursued as future novel treatments to improve the quality of life for patients living with neurological and/or psychiatric disorders. The chemo-proteomic platform may also be further expanded to characterize other enzyme systems within the serine hydrolase family, leading to the development of additional active agents that modify enzyme function.
After closing of the acquisition deal, Abide’s laboratory in Southern California will become a U.S. drug discovery hub for Lundbeck.
The transaction is expected to be financed by Lundbeck's existing cash reserves. The board of directors of Abide has unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close during the second quarter of 2019, subject to the receipt of customary regulatory approvals, including expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act in the U.S. According to Lundbeck, the transaction will not have any impact on its 2019 financial guidance range provided in February 2019. The expected operational costs connected to Abide will be covered within the current guidance range for 2019.
Based outside of San Diego in La Jolla, Calif., Abide was founded in 2011 and currently employs around 40 employees. Co-founder Dr. Benjamin F. Cravatt of Scripps Research in La Jolla is a world-leading scientist who has advanced activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) to harness the therapeutic potential of the serine hydrolase enzyme super-family.
ABX-1431 is a first-in-class, investigational oral therapy designed to inhibit monoacylglycerol lipase (MGLL), an enzyme that regulates a key system that serves as a natural brake on excessive brain signaling. Inhibition of MGLL by ABX-1431 may potentiate putting the brakes on overactive neural circuits, which may serve to correct abnormal neurotransmission that is often dysregulated in neurological diseases. ABX-1431 has shown clinically promising data in a Phase 1b placebo-controlled trial in patients with Tourette’s, and Abide is currently testing ABX-1431 in clinical trials for the treatment of both Tourette’s and neuropathic pain. The class of compounds also has potential applicability in a range of other neurologic and psychiatric diseases.