RARE Daily

VectivBio Enters Licensing Deal with Asahi Kasei and $100 Million Plus in New Funding

March 30, 2022

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Swiss rare disease focused biotech VectivBio said entered two agreements that will strengthen the company’s balance sheet, bolster its operations and expand apraglutide’s commercial potential beyond VectivBio’s core markets in the United States and the European Union.

VectivBio’s lead product candidate apraglutide is a next-generation, long-acting synthetic GLP-2 analog being developed for a range of rare gastrointestinal diseases where GLP-2 can play a central role in addressing disease pathophysiology, including short bowel syndrome with intestinal failure (SBS-IF) and Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease (aGVHD).

The company entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Asahi Kasei Pharma to develop and commercialize apraglutide, a next-generation, long-acting GLP-2 analog, for the treatment of short bowel syndrome with intestinal failure (SBS-IF), steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD), and future indications in Japan. Under the terms of the agreement, VectivBio will receive an upfront cash payment of approximately $30 million ($5 million of which is the first installment of Asahi Kasei Pharma’s development cost-sharing) and eligibility for up to approximately $170 million in milestone payments if certain development, regulatory and commercial events are achieved. VectivBio is also eligible to receive tiered, double-digit, escalating royalties on sales of apraglutide in Japan. Asahi Kasei Pharma has a right to participate in the development of new indications and lead and fund all development, registration, and commercialization activities in Japan.

“This agreement accelerates the development of apraglutide in Japan, a key market outside our core commercial strategy. Moreover, it validates apraglutide’s best or first-in-class potential across a range of GI conditions and VectivBio’s ability to execute global development programs which includes Asia,” said Luca Santarelli, founder and CEO of VectivBio.

“GLP-2 presents a well-established mechanism to impact gut health, protecting against damage and regenerating the GI tract, and apraglutide’s profile to date further suggests it may possess best-in-class physiological properties compared to other GLP-2 agonists,” said Yoshikazu Aoki, president of Asahi Kasei Pharma.

VectivBio also entered into a loan facility with Kreos Capital, a global growth lender to life sciences and healthcare companies, granting it access of up to a $75 million flexible loan facility with a minimum required drawdown of $10 million.

“The combination of these two deals provides us with increased optionality as we pursue our development priorities and continue to build our company into a global rare disease leader, extending our cash runway well beyond our major catalysts,” said Santarelli.

The two agreements, together with VectivBio’s cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2021 of $103 million, provides up to $220 million in operating capital.

Photo: Luca Santarelli, founder and CEO of VectivBio

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