Biogen Idec said yesterday it will acquire Convergence Pharmaceuticals for up to $675 million. The buyer said its purchase was intended to speed up development of Convergence’s pain drug portfolio—especially CNV1014802, a Phase II candidate that has shown promising results.
CNV1014802 is a small molecule, state-dependent sodium channel blocker thought to inhibit the Nav 1.7 ion channels, therapeutic targets related to human pain.
In a Phase II trial, the drug candidate was associated with a consistent reduction of pain severity—a 55% drop by the end of the study, compared with 18% for placebo, according to results released in June 2014. CNV1014802 also generated a 2.3 unit decrease in the NRS scale for pain intensity, a 60% reduction in paroxysms (vs. 12% in placebo); and a treatment failure rate of 33%, vs. 65% for placebo, Convergence reported at the time.
The experimental drug has shown clinical activity in proof of concept studies for trigeminal neuralgia (TGN), and for treating pain associated with lumbosacral radiculopathy (sciatica). The experimental drug has potential applicability in several other neuropathic pain states, according to Biogen Idec.
Convergence also disclosed plans to launch a pivotal Phase III trial set to start “in early 2015.” CNV1014802 was designated an orphan drug by the FDA in July 2013.
“Neuropathic pain is an area of significant unmet need and represents a natural complement to our current neurology portfolio,” Douglas Williams, Ph.D., evp of research and development at Biogen Idec, said in a statement. “The team at Convergence has pioneered some of the most innovative science in pain management. We believe their industry-leading talent, capabilities and pipeline of candidates, starting with CNV1014802, will provide a strong foundation upon which to expand our neuropathic pain portfolio.”
Also far along in Convergence’s pipeline is CNV2197944, a small molecule, state-dependent calcium channel blocker designed to selectively inhibit highly active Cav2.2 channels. The company has launched two initiated two Phase II proof of concept trials for CNV2197944 in neuropathic pain, after preclinical studies had shown the candidate could have analgesic potential for a broad range of chronic pain conditions.
Neuropathic pain is also the indication of a Phase II Biogen Idec compound, Neublastin. As of November 20, 2014, Biogen Idec was recruiting participants for a Phase II study designed to assess the efficacy of Intravenous Neublastin in improving pain in painful lumbar radiculopathy participants when administered three times per week for one week, according to a posting on ClinicalTrials.gov.
A third Convergence candidate, CNV1061436, is a Phase I-ready sodium channel blocker indicated for treating CNS disorders, including epilepsy and bipolar disorder. According to the company, CNV1061436 has the potential to be a once-daily oral medicine predicted to overcome many of the issues currently encountered with CNS drugs.
Another seven candidates are in various preclinical phases.
Biogen Idec has agreed to pay Convergence shareholders $200 million upfront. The shareholders are also eligible to receive up to $475 million in payments tied to milestones.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, and is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in the U.S.
Convergence will continue to operate out of Cambridge, U.K., under the leadership of its CSO, Simon Tate, Ph.D., Biogen Idec said. The company was formed in 2010 after acquiring drug candidates from GlaxoSmithKline, with funding from Apposite Capital, New Leaf Venture Partners and SV Life Sciences.