Vifor builds in kidney disease with Sanifit, Inositec buys

chronic kidney disease

On the heels of a late-stage clinical trial failure, Vifor Pharma has moved to bolster its pipeline by acquiring Spain's Sanifit and fellow Swiss biotech Inositec for a combined value of €225 million (around $254 million) upfront.

The deals mean Glattbrugg-based Vifor claims a clinical-stage drug for patients with complications of end-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD), which has been taken into phase 3 by Sanifit, as well as an Inositec compound which is set to start clinical testing shortly.

The Swiss group is paying €205 million upfront for Sanifit and SNF472, billed as a first-in-class, intravenous inhibitor of vascular calcification a condition in which minerals are deposited in the arteries or veins that is sometimes associated with atherosclerosis.

In severe cases, the deposits can block blood vessels, leading to severe pain and lesions that can be life-threatening.

The deal also includes up to €170 million in milestones if SNF472 reaches the market, plus additional undisclosed payments tied to sales performance.

It is stumping up €20 million for Inositec, whose lead programme is INS-3001, another drug that targets vascular calcification but which can be administered by subcutaneous injection.

The move comes a few weeks after Vifor and partner Angion reported a big setback with their hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) mimetic drug ANG-3777 to prevent organ damage in transplant patients, throwing the future of the programme in doubt.

SNF472 slots into the nephrology specialist's late-stage pipeline as a possible replacement for ANG-3777, which has already been discontinued as a therapy for kidney transplant patients but remains in a study in cardiac-surgery associated acute kidney injury (CSA-AKI) due to read out later this year.

Sanifit's drug is being developed for the treatment of a severe form of vascular calcification known as calcific uraemic arteriolopathy (CUA) and peripheral artery disease (PAD) in patients with end-stage kidney disease, neither of which have any approved drugs in this patient population.

The Spanish biotech has previously said it thinks SNF472 has $1 billion-plus sales potential.

INS-3001 meanwhile is a calcification inhibitor based on the natural compound inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) that was recently cleared to start phase 1 testing in healthy volunteers and is being explored as a treatment for PAD as well as aortic valve stenosis.

"These acquisitions are a perfect fit for our expanding nephrology pipeline, which now includes vascular calcification inhibition treatments across various stages of non-dialysis CKD and even non-CKD patient populations," said Vifor's chief executive Abbas Hussain.

The company estimates that there are around 600,000 people in the US and EU suffering from calcifying non-dialysis and dialysis-associated PAD, with another 10,000 people having CUA in those regions.

It also estimates that there are around 1.1 million patients with AVS who would be eligible to receive treatment with INS-3001 if approved.