Denmark's LEO Pharma Opens Up Shop in Cambridge

Published: Sep 30, 2016

Denmark's LEO Pharma Opens Up Shop in Cambridge September 30, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Kendall Square is about to get a little more crowded. Denmark-based LEO Pharmaceuticals will open an office in Kendall Square, the one-square mile area that has become the hub of the pharmaceutical industry on the East Coast.

LEO said it will open a satellite office in Kendall Square as the company looks to invest up to $22.5 million to finance collaborative efforts to develop treatments for various skin diseases, the Boston Globe reported this morning. Three of the company’s executives from its LEO Science & Tech Hub division, will work out of the office to “to vet potential partnerships in dermatology research in the Boston area and beyond,” the Globe reported.

Kim Kjoeller, executive vice president for global research and development at LEO Pharma, told the Boston Globe that creating strategic alliances with companies is part of an effort to “change the treatment paradigm in dermatology.”

LEO Pharma is no stranger to striking deals with companies. In July, LEO Pharma strategic agreement with London-based AstraZeneca worth up tom $1 billion for the rights to develop two dermatology drugs. In the agreement, LEO acquired the global license to tralokinumab in skin diseases and the exclusive license to brodalumab in Europe.

Tralokinumab is an anti-IL-13 monoclonal antibody that completed a Phase IIb study earlier this year for the treatment of patients with atopic dermatitis. Brodalumab is an IL-17 receptor monoclonal antibody under regulatory review for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Before LEO stepped in, Canada-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals held the license to market brodalumab in Europe.

As part of the tralokinumab deal, LEO made an upfront payment to AstraZeneca of $115 million. It will also pay AstraZeneca up to $1 billion in various commercial milestones and up to mid-teen tiered percentage royalties on any product sales. AstraZeneca will manufacture and supply the drug to LEO, and also retain rights to it in respiratory disease and other non-dermatology indications.

In November 2015, LEO expanded its dermatological toehold after it acquired Astellas Pharma Inc. ’s global dermatology business. The agreement, worth nearly $1 billion, brought the eczema treatment Protopic and other products for the treatment of acne and skin infection under the LEO umbrella.

In March, the company received marketing approval of Enstilar, the first fixed combination topical foam treatment for people living with psoriasis vulgaris, in Europe. Approximately four million people in Europe have psoriasis. Patients treated with Enstilar in clinical trials experienced significant improvements in symptoms within the first week and more than half achieved treatment success after four weeks.

Cambridge’s Kendall Square area, which makes up approximately one square mile, is packed with biotech representatives, including Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and COmpany , Amgen , GlaxoSmithKline , Takeda Pharmaceuticals , Sanofi , Biogen Idec, Inc. and Novartis AG . There are also a plethora of other cutting-edge companies, such as Alnylam and bluebird bio . One of the reasons for the greater Boston area becoming such a major hub in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries is the plethora of research universities in the area. Boston also has one of the highest educated workforces in the nation. The close proximity of so many pharmaceutical and university laboratories provides researchers and scientists easy access to clinical studies and building partnerships between companies.

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