Astellas to acquire Propella Therapeutics and its experimental prostate cancer therapy
Astellas Pharma Inc. announced that it will acquire Propella Therapeutics, Inc., based in Pittsboro. Propella is a privately held biopharmaceutical company that has leveraged a wholly owned proprietary platform that combines medicinal chemistry with lymphatic targeting to create new oncology drugs.
Through the acquisition of Propella, Astellas will acquire PRL-02 (abiraterone decanoate), an androgen biosynthesis inhibitor being developed by Propella to treat prostate cancer.
PRL-02 is a novel, long-acting “prodrug” of abiraterone that, following intramuscular injection, is expected to achieve high concentrations in target tissues where the active moiety, abiraterone, is continuously released. A “prodrug” is one with increased bioavailability by utilizing metabolic reactions in the body.
PRL-02 may provide improved efficacy and safety compared to existing treatment options by high CYP17 lyase inhibition selectivity. PRL-02 is currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial and is expected to enter Phase 2a clinical trials in 2024.
"The acquisition fits with Astellas' strategy to provide patients with therapeutic options for diseases with high unmet medical needs,” said Naoki Okamura, President and CEO, Astellas, in today’s announcement. “Propella has a promising program, PRL-02, targeting prostate cancer. We believe that the synergy with Astellas' global development and commercialization capabilities in the cancer and urology fields will accelerate the development of PRL-02 and deliver new value to patients with prostate cancer."
Under the agreement, Astellas will pay approximately $175 million to acquire all of the outstanding common stock and equity interests in Propella. The transaction is expected to occur during Astellas' fiscal year 2023 (which ends on March 31, 2024).
"Propella has focused on the research and development of proprietary, highly selective inhibitors that precisely block the synthesis of androgens, the main driver of prostate cancer, without significant changes in other steroids that are known to reduce clinical activity and safety,” said William Moore, President and CEO, Propella. “We are gratified that Astellas recognizes and values PRL-02's potential as a best-in-class therapeutic for the treatment of men with prostate cancer. We are delighted that Astellas has chosen PRL-02 for further development and we are committed to supporting Astellas' plans to accelerate PRL-02 development to improve treatment options for prostate cancer patients globally."