Mereo BioPharma has made a deal with AstraZeneca for an exclusive license, including an option to acquire, AZD9668, an oral inhibitor of neutrophil elastase.
Mereo said it plans to conduct a Phase II study for the treatment of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (“AATD”), a congenital orphan condition. The Company has the right to exercise its option to acquire AZD9668 after the initiation of pivotal studies.
Denise Scots-Knight, CEO of Mereo BioPharma believes that this neutrophil elastase inhibitor has potential as an effective, orally available treatment for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an undertreated orphan condition that results in progressive lung destruction. “The structure of this license and option agreement allows us to complete the Phase II study with our existing resources before triggering additional payments to acquire the asset outright.”
“AstraZeneca has generated a substantial clinical data package on AZD9668 which includes extensive Phase II studies in several respiratory conditions that will inform the initial Phase II clinical study we are planning for AATD. We believe that the neutrophil elastase inhibitor AZD9668 could provide a new innovative approach for the treatment of AATD, which affects approximately 100,000 patients in the US and 120,000 patients in Europe.”
AstraZeneca is another large pharma shareholder in the Company, alongside Novartis, said Scots-Knight.
Kumar Srinivasan, Vice President of Scientific Partnering & Alliances at AstraZeneca said: “This transaction reaffirms AstraZeneca’s commitment to patients by re-positioning an asset into an orphan indication with a high unmet need. We will continue to divest or out-license deprioritized assets where we believe it will help accelerate the development of new medicines.”
Professor Sandy Sandhaus MD, PhD, FCCP said: “Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a debilitating disease with limited treatment options. Available data to date suggests AZD9668 may be effective in treating this condition. I welcome Mereo’s clinical development programme that will evaluate its potential in this setting.”