Astellas Pharma is acquiring Ogeda, getting hold of its promising Phase II candidate to treat menopause without hormonal therapy.
After acquiring Ganymed Pharmaceuticals last October for a record €1.3B in German biotech, the Japanese Astellas Pharma is making a second massive acquisition in Europe. Its new addition is Ogeda, a Belgian biotech targeting GPCRs to treat gynecological disorders.
Ogeda will initially receive €500M for 100% of its equity, and the shareholders are eligible to receive an additional €300M if the company’s lead compound meets development and regulatory milestones.
This announcement comes in just three months after Ogeda revealed positive data from a Phase IIa study of fezolinetant (ESN364), its lead drug candidate. The treatment achieved a 93% reduction in hot flashes during menopause after 12 weeks, with their severity also reduced by 70%. In comparison, the placebo achieved 54% and 23% reduction, respectively
Fezolinetant has the potential to become the first non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes in menopause. Instead of meddling with hormone replacement, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer, Ogeda’s candidate targets the tachykinin receptor NK3 in neurons located in the brain.
This advantage will certainly give the candidate a strong entrance in the menopausal hot flashes market, which is expected to reach €5Bn by 2023. In addition, the Belgian biotech is running Phase II trials with the candidate to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and uterine fibroids.
However, this is not the only European company working on non-hormonal therapies. NeRRe Therapeutics, in the UK, is developing drugs that target neurokinin receptors to treat a range of conditions from sex hormone imbalances to opiate use.