Company obtains preclinical-stage protein and antibody therapies.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals acquired Taligen Therapeutics for $111 million, gaining preclinical-stage biologic candidates. Taligen’s pipeline reportedly includes potential treatments for ophthalmic diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and additional antibody and protein regulators of the complement inflammatory pathways.

Alexion has one pharmaceutical on the market, Soliris, and an antibody platform that has generated one candidate, which is in preclinical testing. The company will leverage Taligen’s biopharmaceutical expertise and establish a translational medicine group in Cambridge, MA, where Taligen is based. Further contingent payments will be earned upon reaching various clinical efficacy and product approval milestones in the U.S. and EU for up to six products.

Alexion will provide 2011 financial guidance in February, including transaction-related one-time expenses. Non-GAAP R&D expenses for 2011 are expected to be approximately 18% of sales, including activities associated with Taligen’s programs.

A tissue-targeting platform technology fuels Taligen’s pipeline, which includes candidates for AMD, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), and organ transplant. The company’s protein therapeutics are designed to selectively identify, target, and concentrate on inflammatory tissues. Taligen reports that its drugs have been shown to naturally and broadly control aberrant inflammation in an array of genetic diseases.

AMD drug candidate TT30 is Taligen’s lead candidate. It is also being investigated as a treatment for various autoimmune diseases, according to the firm. In August the company added $10 million to a Series B financing round, bringing the total up to $65 million.

Alexion’s pipeline is largely made up of label-extension trials for Soliris. The drug was approved for PNH by the FDA and the EC in 2007 as well as by regulatory authorities of other countries including Japan in 2010. Net product sales increased 38% to $141.6 million in the third quarter of 2010 compared to $102.6 million in the same period in 2009. For the year ended December 31, 2009, the company reported net product sales of Soliris of $386.8 million, an increase of 49% compared to $259.0 million in 2008.

Soliris is in about 10 clinical trials related to hematological, neurological, and kidney disorders as well as transplants. A different formulation of Soliris is also being studied in a Phase I AMD trial. Also in Phase I is an anti-CD200 antibody, Samalizumab, which is being evaluated as a therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma.

“Taligen’s talented scientists and impressive technology will enhance Alexion’s world-class staff and breakthrough research and development programs, substantially increasing our ability to develop first-in-class therapies for patients with severe diseases,” says Leonard Bell, M.D., CEO of Alexion. “As product development opportunities continue to expand, we look forward to increasing the quality, speed, and throughput of our combined current and future development programs for the benefit of patients worldwide.”

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