Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and Inviragen, Inc. jointly announced today that Takeda, its wholly owned subsidiary Takeda America Holdings, Inc., and Inviragen, Inc. have entered into a definitive agreement for Takeda to acquire Inviragen for an upfront payment of US$35 million, and future payments of up to US$215 million linked to the progress of clinical development and achievement of key commercial milestones. Headquartered in Fort Collins, CO, with facilities in Madison, WI and Singapore, Inviragen is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company specializing in research and development of innovative vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, including dengue and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
"Takeda has taken another major step toward its goal of establishing a world-class global vaccine business by acquiring Inviragen and its advanced vaccine candidate against dengue, a serious mosquito-borne illness that threatens nearly half of the world's population," said Rajeev Venkayya, M.D., executive vice president and head of Takeda's Vaccine Business Division. "Today's announcement reinforces Takeda's commitment to develop innovative vaccines to fight some of the world's most important infectious diseases." Inviragen has created innovative products using its expertise in viral vaccines. The company's lead candidate, DENVax, is a four-strain recombinant viral vaccine for the prevention of dengue infection. An administration schedule of two doses of DENVax over 90 days is currently being evaluated in Phase 2 clinical trials. In addition to DENVax, Inviragen's pipeline contains a vaccine candidate to protect against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) caused by enterovirus 71 (EV71), which has completed Phase 1 clinical testing. Inviragen has also developed a recombinant vaccine candidate to protect against chikungunya, currently in preclinical development.
"The acquisition of Inviragen supports Takeda's overall research and development programs, long-term growth strategy and commitment to improve health through innovation and new technology," said Tadataka Yamada, M.D., Takeda's chief medical and scientific officer and member of the Takeda board of directors. "Coming less than a year after the acquisition of LigoCyte with the world's leading norovirus vaccine candidate, this illustrates Takeda's commitment to its global vaccine business and global public health." Dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral illness in the world, and is one of four World Health Organization (WHO) future vaccine priorities. It is estimated that about 400 million people worldwide are infected by the dengue virus each year, of which nearly 100 million develop clinical illness. Approximately 500,000 people are hospitalized and 20,000, mostly children, die from severe complications such as hemorrhagic fever. Currently there are only symptomatic treatments available for dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever, and the only means of prevention is through mosquito control.
The number of reported symptomatic dengue infections has increased 30-fold in the past 50 years, and the global footprint of dengue is expanding. HFMD epidemics occur annually throughout the Asia Pacific region, with millions of cases reported yearly since 2010.
Chikungunya, which is a mosquito-transmitted virus, has produced epidemics in Africa, India, Asia and Europe. There are no specific treatments or cures for dengue, HFMD or chikungunya. Takeda will work with governments and international organizations to ensure that these vaccines reach the populations that need them around the world.
"This acquisition combines Inviragen's expertise in viral vaccine research and development and our extensive worldwide network of preclinical and clinical collaborators with Takeda's resources, product development expertise, and global reach. Together we are well-positioned to bring these promising vaccine candidates to the market," said Dan Stinchcomb, Ph.D., Inviragen's chief executive officer. "Inviragen is pleased to become a part of a leading pharmaceutical company that is so strongly committed to developing vaccines that can improve public health worldwide." Beyond the substantial expansion of Takeda's vaccine pipeline, this acquisition will enhance Takeda's core vaccine R&D capabilities with Inviragen's vaccine development center in Singapore, in one of the regions where Inviragen's vaccines will have the greatest impact.
"Inviragen has made significant progress in developing key vaccines for emerging infectious diseases in Asia and worldwide, with active support from its international investor base," said Swee-Yeok Chu, CEO & President EDBI, a strategic investment firm headquartered in Singapore and a major Inviragen investor. "Takeda is an excellent partner to bring these important vaccines to the next stage of development." To preserve continuity and build upon Inviragen's success, Takeda will integrate the Inviragen team into Takeda's Vaccine Business Division.
Pending the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to close in the next few weeks.