OnCore Biopharma acquired all outstanding shares of Pennsylvania-based pharma firm Enantigen Therapeutics in an all-cash deal. OnCore will be taking over Enantigen's two discovery programs—one targeting inhibition of s-antigen secretion and one targeting capsid assembly inhibition—as part of the acquisition.
Patrick Higgins, OnCore's CEO, said in a statement that the company is planning to combine Enantigen's drug candidates with its own all-oral portfolio of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) compounds and advance multiple combination regimens into clinical trials. “The Enantigen programs, together with our lead cyclophilin inhibitor, NPV018, and our cccDNA formation and capsid assembly inhibition programs give OnCore the most comprehensive platform of assets consolidated to target a cure for hepatitis B,” he commented.
Drugs that inhibit HBV surface antigen or secretion, according to OnCore, could potentially reduce the impact of the viral infection on host immune function, as HBV surface antigen plays an important role in controlling the host immune response. Drugs that inhibit capsid assembly can terminate the progression of the virus lifecycle and inhibit viral replication.
Founded in 2012 by former executives of Pharmasset, OnCore's focus is on the research, development, and commercialization of therapies for the treatment of chronic HBV infection. Last month, OnCore picked up an exclusive worldwide license to a series of second-generation cyclophilin inhibitors for treating HBV from NeuroVive Pharmaceutical, including NeuroVive's lead drug candidate NVP018. The total value of the license agreement was said to be up to $150 million.