Biogen has yet to make the big, transformative buyout Wall Street investors have hoped for. But it continues to place small bets to build up its neurology pipeline. The latest is a deal to pick up a compound now in mid-stage testing in stroke victims.
Cambridge, MA-based Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) said Thursday that it will pay TMS of Japan $4 million up front for the exclusive option to acquire the drug TMS-007 down the road. Biogen would pay another $18 million if it picks up the option. If the drug reaches the market, Biogen would be responsible for up to $335 million more in milestones payments, plus royalties on sales.
The pressure has been ratcheting up on Biogen to do a big deal for some time. Much of the company’s future fortunes currently rest with the ongoing Phase 3 trial of Alzheimer’s disease drug aducanumab. While aducanumab has shown promise in early tests, the list of Phase 3 Alzheimer’s failures is vast and has gotten even longer this year.
So far, however, Biogen has placed smaller bets elsewhere, engineering pacts to acquire drugs for Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, ALS. Most recently, it broadened an alliance with Ionis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IONS) of Carlsbad, CA, to develop RNA-based drugs for brain diseases. Stroke has been one area of focus: Biogen acquired the intravenous stroke drug glibenclamide when it bought New York-based Remedy Pharmaceuticals last year in a $120 million deal. The drug, meant to prevent and treat the buildup of fluids and swelling in a severe type of stroke called large hemispheric infarction, is ready to start Phase 3 testing.
The TMS drug is a plasminogen activator, a type of therapeutic meant to bust blood clots. Biogen says the TMS drug has a novel way of breaking down blood clots and it is believed to block inflammation at the site of the clot. Biogen adds that the approach offers the potential for an extended window to treat strokes compared to currently available treatments.
TMS started a Phase 2 clinical trial in February. The double blind, placebo-controlled study is enrolling 60 to 90 patients up to 12 hours after a stroke.