Otsuka acquires a kidney care partner

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Otsuka Pharmaceutical (Tokyo) has signed a merger agreement to acquire the clinical-stage biotechnology company Visterra (Waltham, MA) for about $430 million in cash.

The company is attractive to Otsuka because of its pipeline of programs, including those targeting IgA nephropathy and other kidney diseases, cancer, infectious diseases, and chronic pain. In IgA nephropathy, the antibody IgA builds up in the kidneys, affecting the glomeruli and causing irreversible scarring of nephrons. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that researchers have not found a specific cure for the disease.

Visterra offers a platform for the design and engineering of antibody-based drug candidates designed to bind to and modulate disease targets. The Visterra Hierotope platform targets drug candidates that are not adequately addressed by traditional approaches to creating and developing drugs.

The platform also includes fragment crystallizable (Fc) engineering capabilities for half-life extension of a drug, bispecific antibodies, and antibody-drug conjugates.

“I am highly gratified that Visterra’s exceptional antibody platform technology, promising pipeline, and talented researchers will join up with Otsuka,” said Otsuka Pharmaceutical President Tatsuo Higuchi.

FierceBiotech website reported that VIS410 is Visterra’s most advanced pipeline candidate. The compound is in phase 2 development for hospital-based influenza.