American pharmaceutical Baxter International recently announced the acquisition of Munich, Martinsreid-based SuppreMol for 225 million Euro.
SuppreMol develops treatments for autoimmune diseases and its lead candidate, SM101, has just completed Phase2a trials for idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP, a disorder causing low platelet levels) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, a disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue). Once again, we are talking about biologics here. SM101 is an autologous recombinant protein, specifically a soluble Fc-gamma receptor IIB (sFcRIIB), that works by interacting with autoantibody/autoantigen complexes and blocking the triggering of Fc-receptors on the surface of immune cells. Once these Fc-receptors are blocked, the immune response is no longer able to respond, thereby alleviating symptoms.
Baxter primarily focusses on products to treat hemophilia, kidney disease, immune disorders and other chronic and acute medical conditions. It is currently preparing for a split where its bioscience division will establish a new headquarters in Boston and will call themselves Baxalta. Judging by alliances formed (e.g. with Boston biopharm, Merrimack) this division appears to be focussed on hematology and oncology.
It’s funny how big pharmas are now merging and splitting to sustain themselves. This may be done to look good on paper to investors but who knows the impact it might have on research. We all know how long it takes to set up labs, train new people, transfer knowledge. At the same time, strategic alliances formed and the incorporation and hence exposure of smaller companies to big pharma with their greater experience in clinical translation may bode well to bring more ideas to the market. Only time will tell.