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AstraZeneca (AZN) Inks Deal to Develop ATTR-CM Candidate

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AstraZeneca PLC’s (AZN - Free Report) newly acquired subsidiary, Alexion, has in-licensed rights to develop, manufacture and commercialise Swiss biotech Neurimmune AG’s investigational human monoclonal antibody, NI006. The candidate is currently being evaluated in a phase Ib study for the treatment of transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a progressive and fatal condition that leads to heart failure.

NI006, an ATTR depleter, has been developed for clearing cardiac amyloid fibril deposits. NI006 also has the ability to boost cardiac functions for patients suffering from advanced ATTR-CM.

With this deal, AstraZeneca is looking to strengthen its portfolio of investigational therapies focused on amyloidosis that are being developed to address cardiomyopathies that can lead to heart failure.

The transaction is expected to close upon meeting customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances.

Per the agreement, Neurimmune will receive an upfront payment of $30 million from AstraZeneca. Neurimmune will also be entitled to additional milestone payments of up to $730 million as well as low-to-mid teen royalties on net sales if a product is approved.

Neurimmune will lead the current phase Ib study of NI006 while AstraZeneca will pay certain costs for the same. Thereafter, AstraZeneca will be responsible for further clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization of NI006.

Shares of AstraZeneca have rallied 13.7% in the past year compared with the industry’s increase of 16.9%.

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AstraZeneca has engaged in external acquisitions and strategic collaboration deals to boost its pipeline and drive growth.

In December 2021, AstraZeneca closed the previously announced agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS - Free Report) for developing and commercializing eplontersen.

Formerly known as IONIS-TTR-LRx, eplontersen is Ionis’ investigational medicine being developed for the treatment of transthyretin amyloidosis or ATTR, a progressive and fatal disease.

Ionis will continue to manufacture and supply eplontersen for the existing clinical studies. AstraZeneca will be responsible for commercial supply, and will also have to record all sales generated under the agreement.

The July 2021 acquisition of Alexion added blockbuster rare disease drugs, C5 inhibitors Soliris and Ultomiris, as well as a growing pipeline of candidates in rare diseases to AstraZeneca’s portfolio. The acquisition diversified AstraZeneca’s portfolio, marking its foray into rare diseases, an increasingly attractive field.

In addition to acquisitions, AstraZeneca is pursuing co-development deals with companies like Innate Pharma, FibroGen, Moderna and Daiichi Sankyo to boost its pipeline and diversify its portfolio. AstraZeneca also has a profit-sharing deal with Merck for Lynparza and Koselugo (selumetinib).

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

AstraZeneca currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the large-cap pharma sector include Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) and AbbVie Inc. (ABBV - Free Report) . While Pfizer carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), AbbVie sports a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Pfizer’s earnings estimates have been revised 44.6% upward for 2022 over the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 47.6% in the past year.

Pfizer’s earnings have surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed the same on the other occasion.

AbbVie’s earnings estimates have been revised 0.7% upward for 2022 over the past 60 days. The stock has increased 23.7% in the past year.

AbbVie’s earnings have surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and matched the same on the other occasion.

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