Less than a week after disclosing plans to split up by spinning out its biopharma business, Baxter International plans to bulk up that spinout by acquiring Chatham Therapeutics, the developer of several developmental gene therapy programs aimed at treating hemophilia, in a $70 million-plus deal. 

Baxter said the acquisition will enable it to gain broad access to Chatham's gene therapy platform—including a previously partnered hemophilia B (FIX) program, a preclinical hemophilia A (FVIII) program, and the potential future application to additional hemophilia treatments.

''Chatham's gene therapy platform technology offers the potential to redefine treatment of both hemophilia A and B,'' Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., president of Baxter BioScience, said in a statement. ''This technology will be highly complementary to our expanding pipeline of bleeding disorder treatments as we continue our pursuit of a bleed-free world.''

Baxter, which has more than 60 years' experience in developing hemophilia drugs, said March 27 it will split into two separate companies—a medical products concern that will retain the Baxter name, and an as-yet-unnamed new biopharma that will focus on diagnosis and treatment of blood-related conditions and chronic diseases. Baxter said the new biopharma will develop new drugs through both acquisitions and collaborations, and build a product pipeline focused on treating unmet medical needs. The spinout is expected to be completed by mid-year 2015.

Baxter will shell out $70 million upfront to acquire Chatham, adding that it “may make additional payments in the future based on specified development, regulatory and commercial milestones”—none of them disclosed.

The deal also caps a two-year partnership between the companies that started in May 2012, when Baxter and Chatham launched a collaboration to evaluate Chatham's Biological Nano Particle (BNP™) platform. Baxter uses BNP in a Phase I/II open-label study of its experimental treatment BAX 335—an advanced recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-based gene therapy technology designed to fight hemophilia B.

Baxter said it will continue the clinical trial, which aims to enroll up to 16 hemophilia B patients. The trial is intended to assess the safety and optimal dosing schedule of BAX 335. The BNP technology enables the patient's own liver to begin producing FIX following a single dose of the genetically engineered treatment. The vector is designed to allow more targeted delivery of the FIX therapeutic “cargo” into the natural site of FIX synthesis. Baxter reasons that this may permit effective therapy with low quantities of the vector.

''Given Baxter's long-standing commitment to innovative product development in hemophilia, we are confident that this transaction provides the best opportunity for the advancement of our BNP gene therapy platform technology for the benefit of hemophilia patients worldwide,” added Jade Samulski, Chatham’s co-founder, and vp of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical.

Chatham said it will maintain its licensing and development relationship with Asklepios in developing hemophilia therapeutic gene therapy candidates using BNP. AskBio is involved with the development of the platform for therapeutics targeting diseases in the heart, CNS, muscle, ocular, and liver tissues.

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