Amgen buys inflammatory diseases drug firm Rodeo for up to $721m

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Amgen has announced its second acquisition in the space of a month, snapping up Rodeo Therapeutics and its potential tissue repair drugs in a deal worth up to $721 million.

Rodeo is a privately held biopharmaceutical company based in Seattle that develops small-molecule therapies designed to promote regeneration and repair of several tissues and could be used to treat the fatal lung scarring disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Amgen said that Rodeo’s drug technology based around a receptor known as 15-PGDH fits well with its portfolio of anti-inflammatory drugs and its focus on first-in-class drugs.

California-based Amgen will acquire all outstanding shares of Rodeo for $55 million up front but has agreed to milestone payments worth up to an additional $666 million in cash.

Rodeo’s 15-prostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) modulators have not yet begun clinical trials but Amgen said they have generated “compelling” data in preclinical studies.

Potential diseases that could be treated include colitis and IPF. The drug class also accelerates hematopoietic stem cell reconstitution following bone marrow transplant, and promotes liver regeneration.

Rodeo was founded in July 2017 by venture capitalist Accelerator Life Science Partners (ALSP), which has managed the firm until now.

Raymond Deshaies, senior vice president of global research at Amgen, said: "The enzyme 15-PGDH plays a key role in many disease-relevant processes such as stem cell self-renewal and epithelial barrier repair.

"Given the encouraging preclinical data to date, we are excited about the opportunity to develop a novel therapy with potential in a range of important inflammatory disease indications,

Thong Q. Le, president and chief executive officer of Rodeo, said: "With decades of experience in developing, manufacturing and commercializing innovative therapies for patients suffering from a broad range of immunologic diseases and conditions, Amgen is ideally positioned to rapidly advance our program into the clinic."

Early in March, Amgen added potential gastric cancer drug bemarituzumab to its pipeline with its $1.9 billion acquisition of Five Prime Therapeutics.

Phase 2 trial results suggest bemarituzumab plus chemotherapy could be used as a front-line therapy for advanced gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancer.