“With decades of experience in developing, manufacturing and commercializing innovative therapies for patients suffering from a broad range of immunologic diseases and conditions, Amgen is ideally positioned to rapidly advance our program into the clinic,” Thong Q. Le, the president and CEO of Rodeo said in a press release.
Rodeo is focused on developing first-in-class oral medications that modulate prostaglandin biology. Prostaglandins are a group of lipids (fatty molecules) that have hormone-like effects on the body. These molecules regulate several biological processes, including inflammation, wound healing, and blood clotting.
Rodeo’s lead therapeutic candidates work by modulating the activity of 15-prostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) — an enzyme that breaks down prostaglandins, including prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which is known to counteract pro-fibrotic signaling cascades involved in PF.
According to Amgen, these therapeutic candidates have generated compelling data in many preclinical studies, and could be applied to treat a variety of different diseases.
For instance, blocking the activity of 15-PGDH has been shown to lessen inflammation and lung fibrosis (scarring) in a mouse model of induced PF. Treatment also lowered weight loss associated with the disease and improved animals’ survival.
“The enzyme 15-PGDH plays a key role in many disease-relevant processes such as stem cell self-renewal and epithelial barrier repair,” said Raymond Deshaies, PhD, senior vice president of global research at Amgen.
Stem cell self-renewal is the process by which stem cells divide to give rise to new stem cells. Epithelial barrier repair is a maintenance process that aims to ensure the integrity of the epithelium, which in the lungs is the part of the tissue that is in direct contact with air.
“Given the encouraging preclinical data to date, we are excited about the opportunity to develop a novel therapy with potential in a range of important inflammatory disease indications,” Deshaies said.
“We are thrilled that Amgen recognizes the potential value and differentiated profile of our 15-PGDH inhibitor program,” Le added.
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Amgen will acquire all outstanding shares of Rodeo in exchange for a $55 million upfront payment. There also is a possibility of future payments — worth up to $666 million — if certain regulatory milestones are reached.
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