Vertex Expands Immunotherapy Capabilities with $4.9bn Alpine Acquisition

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated and Alpine Immune Sciences, Inc., a biotechnology firm dedicated to pioneering protein-based immunotherapies, jointly announced the signing of a definitive acquisition agreement. According to the agreement, Vertex will procure Alpine at a rate of $65 per share, amounting to roughly $4.9 billion in cash. The transaction has received unanimous approval from the boards of directors of both Vertex and Alpine and is expected to conclude later this quarter.

Alpine’s lead molecule, povetacicept (ALPN-303), stands as a highly potent and effective dual antagonist of BAFF (B cell activating factor) and APRIL (a proliferation inducing ligand). Through Phase 2 development, povetacicept has shown potential best-in-class efficacy in IgA nephropathy (IgAN). IgAN is a serious, progressive, autoimmune disease of the kidney that can lead to end-stage-renal disease.

Notably, there are currently no approved therapies addressing the root cause of IgAN, despite its prevalence as the most common primary (idiopathic) glomerulonephritis globally, impacting around 130,000 individuals in the U.S. Povetacicept is poised to advance into Phase 3 clinical trials in the latter half of 2024, reflecting its momentum and potential to address this unmet medical need.

Due to its mechanism of action as a dual BAFF/APRIL antagonist, povetacicept holds the potential to benefit patients with other serious autoimmune diseases of the kidney, such as membranous nephropathy and lupus nephritis, as well as autoimmune cytopenias. Clinical studies in renal indications and autoimmune cytopenias are ongoing.

Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., FASN, Chief Executive Officer and President of Vertex, said:

“Alpine is a compelling strategic fit for Vertex and furthers our ambition of using scientific innovation to create transformative medicines targeting serious diseases with high unmet need in specialty markets. We look forward to welcoming the talented Alpine team to Vertex and believe that together we can bring povetacicept, a potential best-in-class treatment for IgAN to patients faster. We also look forward to fully exploring povetacicept’s potential as a ‘pipeline-in-a-product’ and adding Alpine’s protein engineering and immunotherapy capabilities to Vertex’s toolbox.”

Mitchell H. Gold, M.D., Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alpine, said:

“Today’s announcement marks a new chapter for Alpine. It became clear during our discussions with the Vertex team that we share many core values, including a commitment to patients, our employees, and an intense drive for innovation. Povetacicept has demonstrated potential best-in-class attributes in IgA nephropathy and has broad development potential across a number of other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions with significant unmet need. We look forward to the opportunity, now more than ever, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients worldwide as part of Vertex.”

About Povetacicept (ALPN-303)

Povetacicept (ALPN-303) is a dual antagonist of the BAFF (B cell activating factor) and APRIL (a proliferation inducing ligand) cytokines, which play key roles in pathogenesis of multiple autoimmune diseases via their roles in the activation, differentiation and/or survival of B cells, T cells and innate immune cells. Based upon an engineered TACI (transmembrane activator and CAML interactor) domain, povetacicept has higher binding affinity and greater potency in preclinical studies versus other inhibitors of BAFF and/or APRIL alone and has demonstrated potential best-in-class efficacy in a clinical trial in patients with IgA nephropathy. Povetacicept is also in development for multiple serious diseases including other autoimmune kidney diseases and autoimmune cytopenias. Povetacicept is targeted to enter Phase 3 in the second half of 2024.

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Image Credit: Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated

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