Allergan plans to acquire Vitae Pharmaceuticals for approximately $639 million, the companies said today,. This is the buyer’s second acquisition in 5 months focused on expanding its dermatology portfolio.

The deal adds to Allergan’s pipeline Vitae’s two clinical candidates—VTP-43742, a Phase II first-in-class, orally active retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma t (RORγt) inhibitor indicated for psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders, as well as VTP-38543, a Phase IIa topical  liver X receptor beta (LXRβ) selective agonist for atopic dermatitis.

“The acquisition of Vitae is a strategic investment for Allergan that adds strength and depth to our innovative medical dermatology franchise,” Allergan CEO and President Brent Saunders said in a statement.

VTP-43742, Vitae’s lead candidate, is designed to inhibit interleukin-17 (IL-17) activity. The candidate recently completed a Phase II proof-of-concept multiple ascending-dose trial in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. In preclinical studies, VTP-43742 was shown to inhibit RORγt activity and was highly selective versus other ROR isotypes, with the potential for providing a once-daily oral treatment.

VTP-38543 is believed to work by decreasing inflammation in damaged skin tissue and repairing the damaged outer layer of skin. VTP-38543 is currently in a Phase IIa proof-of-concept clinical trial assessing the safety, tolerability, and efficacy in patients with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis.

Also in Vitae’s pipeline, according to its website, are two preclinical candidates: VTP-45489, a second RORγt inhibitor that is indicated for autoimmune diseases, and an unnamed “new target” with a novel mechanism of action and an undisclosed indication.

Vitae has used its Contour® structure-based drug design platform to discover product candidates for validated therapeutic targets where biopharmaceutical R&D has been unable to develop drugs due to potency, selectivity, and pharmacokinetics challenges.

Allergan also grew its dermatology holdings in April when it acquired Topokine Therapeutics for $85 million upfront. That deal brought into Allergan’s pipeline Topokine’s Phase IIb/III candidate XAF5, a potential first-in-class topical treatment for steatoblepharon, or bags under the eyes.

Dermatology and medical aesthetics is one of Allergan’s areas of R&D focus, along with the central nervous system, eye care, gastroenterology, women's health, urology, and anti-infective treatments.

At $21 per share, Allergan’s offer for Vitae marks a 159% premium above Vitae’s closing share price yesterday of $8.10.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close by year’s end. A subsidiary of Allergan will launch a cash tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Vitae common stock for $21 per share. The tender offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including U.S. antitrust clearance and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares. Allergan plans to acquire any Vitae shares not tendered soon afterward through a second-step merger.

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