JAPAN — Takeda Pharmaceutical has agreed to pay up to US$6 billion (813 billion) for an experimental immune therapy developed by Nimbus Therapeutics, as part of the Japanese pharmaceutical company’s search for promising new products.

Takeda will pay US$4 billion upfront for the drug, NDI-034858, which will be renamed TAK-279, the companies announced.

The drug has shown statistically significant reduction in moderate-to-severe psoriasis in a mid-stage study and is expected to enter late-stage trials next year.

The company is also studying the drug to treat inflammatory bowel disease and psoriatic arthritis.

Nimbus, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is also eligible for two additional US$1 billion milestone payments if the drug achieves annual net sales of US$4 billion and US$5 billion, respectively.

Investors have been keen on Takeda’s prospects for growth since its US$62 billion acquisition of Shire five years ago.

Takeda’s therapeutic areas of focus include gastroenterology, along with oncology, rare disease, neuroscience, plasma-derived therapies, and vaccines.

The Nimbus drug inhibits an immune-related protein called tyrosine kinase and recently yielded positive results in mid-stage studies of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. It’s expected to enter final-stage studies next year, according to the statement.

According to CEO Christophe Weber, the drug provides an opportunity to expand its strategy beyond Entyvio: The ulcerative colitis treatment accounted for approximately 15% of the company’s revenue in the fiscal year that ended in March.

Adding this TYK2 inhibitor to our late-stage pipeline gives Takeda an exciting program that has the potential to significantly expand our portfolio and patient impact, while enhancing our growth strategy beyond Entyvio,” Weber added.

Takeda is eager to develop new drugs to recoup the losses it expects when Entyvio (vedolizumab) loses patent exclusivity in Europe in May 2025, followed by the United States in May 2026.

Entyvio is an integrin receptor antagonist indicated for moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis and moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease, both in adults.

Earlier this month, the company’s dengue vaccine was authorized for use in the European Union.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.