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AbbVie Options Alvine Celiac Drug for $70 Million

Collaboration could broaden pharma’s autoimmune pipeline.


The Burrill Report

“In May 2010, its venture arm, Abbott Biotech Ventures (now AbbVie Biotech Ventures) made an undisclosed investment in Alvine.”

AbbVie is expanding its stake in Alvine Pharmaceuticals with a $70 million payment for an exclusive option on Alvine’s mid-stage experimental therapy for Celiac disease, a genetically inherited autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine gluten is consumed.

Celiac disease affects about 6 million people in the United States and the European Union. There is no approved therapy for it. Instead, patients must follow a strict, gluten-free diet to avoid damaging their small intestines. The disease has also been found to share key features with other autoimmune disorders, making it a potentially useful model for AbbVie, which has a big stake in autoimmune disease area with Humira.

In May 2010, its venture arm, Abbott Biotech Ventures (now AbbVie Biotech Ventures) made an undisclosed investment in Alvine, extending the company’s Series A financing.

AbbVie’s new option allows it to either acquire the assets relating to the Alvine drug, ALV003 or the equity of the company. Alvine, a private California-based company, will maintain responsibility for mid-stage clinical development, with further payments due it if that trial is successful and AbbVie begins a late-stage trial of the drug.

Alvine’s ALV003 is an investigational oral therapy. It contains two recombinant enzymes that break down gluten in the body and may reduce the symptoms and intestinal injury associated with celiac disease in patients attempting to adhere to a gluten-free diet. Data from a mid-stage study reported in May 2012 showed reduction of intestinal inflammation in patients exposed to gluten and treated with ALV003 when compared to patients treated with placebo.

Alvine president and CEO Abhay Joshi says he is “pleased to have an industry leader in gastroenterology as a collaborator” and that he expects that AbbVie’s global reach will help get the therapy into the hands of more patients.

May 15, 2013

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