A British biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced plans Monday to buy a Massachusetts startup CinCor for $1.3 billion and bring to market its lead drug candidate, a hypertensive drug. If the startup succeeds in developing the drug and submitting it for regulatory review, they will receive another $500 million.
In an interview in San Francisco during JP Morgan Healthcare’s annual conference, a CinCor board member said the company is bringing significant innovation to the world of hypertension, which hasn’t seen new drugs in some time.
“This is one of the first cardiovascular drugs or hypertension drugs that have been developed for quite a long time,” said Maina Baman, a partner at Sofinnova Partners. “So there hasn’t been much competition in hypertension.”
Like Frank Vinluan of MedCity News wrote about the deal on MondayCinCor’s small molecule is “designed to block an enzyme key to the synthesis of aldosterone, a hormone that regulates blood pressure.”
But CinCor’s drug won’t be a first-line therapy, given that doctors typically prescribe beta-blockers that develop high blood pressure, Baman said. But let’s say that even with a beta blocker and a calcium channel blocker, and maybe even a diuretic, your high blood pressure is stubbornly high. Then you’d be a candidate for the drug that CinCor hopes to commercialize in a few years, Baman said.
She added that the drug has shown a good safety profile and is expected to start a phase 3 trial in the first half of this year.
“There are a few other people currently developing drugs that have a similar mechanism. We think we are best in class and we hope we are first in class to reach patients. And, you know, the data was fantastic,” Baman said. “We received an article from the New England Journal of Medicine.”
CinCor’s phase 2 study of the drug baxdrostat actually missed its primary endpoint to reduce blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. Bhaman was probably referring to results in a subset of patients who showed double-digit declines. This subgroup represented 47% of trial participants.
Apparently, this was something that caught the attention of AstraZeneca’s corporate business development, which took biotech by storm.
“AstraZeneca will be a great partner for the drug,” said Baman. “They have a strong interest in the area and we think they’ll be able to bring it to a lot more patients faster than we can.”
In fact, AstraZeneca hopes that CinCor’s drug will be able to tackle more than just resistant hypertension. They also hope to address chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease.
The drug, which is intended to be a touted supplement for patients already on multiple blood pressure medications, is not the only effort being made in the medical world for patients struggling with the problem of drug-resistant hypertension. The medical device world has been striving to use a minimal surgical procedure and ablate the renal artery to lower blood pressure for years, but there is still no winner with a successful therapy.
Medtronic’s renal denervation system failed to meet its goals in two different trials, but even despite the latest failure, the company moved forward with a submission to the Food and Drug Administration last year. Two other companies also in the field of renal denervation therapy and SoniVie — that has received breakthrough device designation from the FDA and approval from the agency to begin a trial — and ReCor Medicalwhich submitted its Paradise ultrasound renal denervation system for FDA approval in November.
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