Alexion signs R&D deals with two Nordic biotechs


Alexion has signed a deal with two Nordic biotechs to bolster its pipeline of potential rare disease drugs.

The US pharma has announced partnerships with Denmark’s Zealand Pharma and Sweden’s Affibody, to research peptides for complement-mediated diseases and a rare autoimmune disease drug, respectively.

The deal with Zealand Pharma builds on Alexion’s presence in rare diseases related to the complement system.

Alexion’s complement inhibitor injection Soliris (eculizumab) is already an established blockbuster and the longer-lasting Ultomiris (ravulizumab) is expected to bring in several billion dollars in the coming years.

Zealand will grant Alexion exclusive worldwide rights for one preclinical target, with the option for three additional targets in the complement pathway.

In return Zealand Pharma will receive $25 million upfront and an equity investment of $15 million, with additional milestone-dependent and royalty payments.

Zealand will lead the joint discovery and research efforts through the preclinical stage, and Alexion will lead development efforts beginning with approval for US clinical trials and phase 1 studies.

For the lead target, the agreement provides the potential for development-related milestones of up to $115 million, as well as up to $495 million in sales-related milestones and the potential for high single- to low double-digit royalty payments.

Each of the three subsequent targets can be selected for an option fee of $15 million and has the potential for additional development milestones, sales milestones and royalty payments at a reduced price to the lead target.


Alexion has also announced a partnership to do co-develop Affibody’s ABY-039 for rare immunoglobulin G-mediated autoimmune diseases.

Currently in phase 1 development, ABY-039 is a bivalent antibody-mimetic that targets the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn).

ABY-039 has been specifically designed to combine Affibody’s protein therapies and Albumod albumin-binding technology to achieve a long half-life, which, along with its small size provides the potential for less frequent, convenient, at-home subcutaneous administration.

Alexion will provide Affibody with an upfront payment of $25 million, with the potential for additional development- and sales-based milestones of up to $625 million and tiered low double-digit royalty payments.

Alexion will lead joint clinical development of ABY-039 and commercialisation activities. Affibody has the option to co-promote ABY-039 in the US and will lead clinical development for an undisclosed indication.

The deal with Affibody is subject to clearance under US antitrust regulations and is due to close in the second quarter this year.