USA—Vertex Pharmaceuticals has announced its plan to acquire biotechnology company Alpine Immune Sciences and its experimental kidney disease medication for US$65 per share, or approximately US$4.9 billion in cash.

This is Vertex’s largest acquisition in 35 years, demonstrating the company’s dedication to extending its kidney disease therapeutic portfolio.

This acquisition focuses on Alpine’s new medicine, povetacicept, which is intended to treat IgA nephropathy (IgAN), a chronic kidney condition.

Povetacicept, which is expected to start Phase 3 testing by the end of the year, works by blocking two proteins called APRIL and BAFF in IgAN patients.

Povetacicept, which is expected to start Phase 3 testing by the end of the year, works by blocking two proteins known as APRIL and BAFF in IgAN patients.

This disorder, marked by symptoms such as blood in the urine, edema in the limbs, and recurrent upper respiratory infections, affects an estimated 130,000 people in the United States. 

With no licensed medicines to target the disease’s underlying cause, Vertex sees a tremendous opportunity in this area.

Vertex’s decision is consistent with its desire to diversify outside its lucrative cystic fibrosis medications.

The company intends to strengthen its position in the kidney disease therapy landscape by acquiring access to Alpine’s promising medication candidate and expertise.

This acquisition comes after Vertex recently announced plans to push another kidney disease medication, inaxaplin, into late-stage testing for illnesses caused by APOL1 gene abnormalities. 

Reshma Kewalramani, Vertex’s CEO, sees the Alpine acquisition as a strategic fit, with the necessary assets at the right stage of development to support Vertex’s kidney disease treatment initiatives.

The competition in the IgAN therapy field is heating up, with other businesses such as Novartis and Otsuka advancing their own medicines.

Despite the competitive environment, analysts believe Vertex’s acquisition of Alpine presents another significant chance to address unmet medical needs in renal disease treatment.

Alpine, created in 2015 and located in Seattle, has experienced tremendous growth since its establishment. 

Led by seasoned biotech executive Mitch Gold, Alpine employs around 145 individuals and went public in 2017 through a reverse merger.

While Vertex’s shares witnessed a tiny decrease in after-market trading following the news, Alpine’s shares have skyrocketed by about 150% this year alone, highlighting investor confidence in the prospects of its pipeline and the acquisition by Vertex.

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