Biogen Spinoff Bioverativ Takes Out Bay Area's True North in $825 Million Deal

Published: May 24, 2017

Biogen Spinoff Bioverativ Takes Out Bay Area's True North in $825 Million Deal May 23, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Waltham, Mass.-based Bioverativ (BIVV) is buying South San Francisco-based True North Therapeutics for an upfront payment of $400 million and up to $425 million in milestones.

Bioverative, which focuses on hemophilia and other rare blood disorders, will acquire global rights to True North’s lead candidate, TNT009, a first-in-class monoclonal antibody to treat cold agglutinin disease (CAD). CAD is a rare and chronic hemolytic disease that can lead to severe anemia and life-threatening thrombotic events. There are no approved therapies for CAD.

Bioverativ was spun off from Biogen (BIIB) at the beginning of this year. It has two drugs, Eloctate for Hemophilia A and Alprolix for Hemophilia B. In 2016, the two drugs created about $850 million in sales. Those two drugs were co-developed with Sobi, out of Sweden.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted TNT009 breakthrough therapy designation in May 2017. TNT009 is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the C1s protein, which is part of the complement system. This family of proteins helps antibodies kill bacteria. But in CAD, the complement proteins attack the body’s red blood cells. TNT009 completed a Phase Ib trial. True North also has a second drug in development, TNT020, which would not have to be administered as often as TNT009 and could be administered via subcutaneous injection instead of through an intravenous infusion.

“One of our strategic priorities is to invest thoughtfully in business development with a focus on building our pipeline in areas where we believe we can make a real difference for patients,” said John Cox, Bioverativ’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “This acquisition of True North is aligned with those goals and with our vision to become the leading rare disease company focused on blood disorders. It strengthens our pipeline with a potential first-in-class therapy to treat CAD, a rare blood disorder with a high unmet patient need.”

Ben Fidler, writing for Xconomy says, “Bioverativ, however, spun out of Biogen with cash for deals—it had $358 million in cash at the end of March and, at the time, no debt—and has been zeroing in on rare blood disorders, building off of an existing partnership with Sangamo Biosciences (SGMO) on potential treatments for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. CEO John Cox said in a statement that the acquisition bolsters the company’s plan to ‘become the leading rare disease company focused on blood disorders.’”

This deal will also be the second return on investment for True North’s backers, which include OrbiMed Advisors, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, MPM Capital, SR One, and Baxter Ventures. With the exception of Baxter, all of those invested in iPierian, which spun out True North in 2013. iPierian was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) in 2014 for $175 million.

John Carroll, writing for Endpoints News, notes, “The buyout marks another success for CEO Nancy Stagliano, an experienced biotech vet who was brought in six years ago to steer a new course for iPierian. She spun out True North to focus on rare diseases and later struck a deal to sell iPierian.”

The deal will be financed with a combination of cash and debt.

“Today’s announcement and TNT009’s breakthrough therapy designation are testaments to the innovative science underpinning our lead candidate and the strength of the True North team,” said Stagliano, in a statement. “We are delighted to have progressed our pipeline to this stage. Bioverative is well positioned to advance the development and commercialization of TNT009 on behalf of CAD patients who are greatly in need of safe and effective treatments.”

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