Shire And Atlas Venture To Work Together To Incubate Rare Disease Research Projects
Collaboration will create start-up biotechs to advance promising research in orphan indications, but the companies will not take a “cookie cutter” approach to structure or evolution.
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In our annual review of start-up dealmaking, we find again that licensed cancer products represented the bulk of alliances. Nonprofits sourced many of these oncology assets.
Reflecting a long trend, three of this past week’s deals include option arrangements, including one with a new twist. Also, a rare disease partnership between Shire and Atlas Venture finally leads to a deal and Takeda continues building its vaccines business.
Rare disease drug development has ballooned in just three years, powered by the success of independent biotechs like Alexion, Big Pharma’s entrée into the field, and pressure from regulators and payors that is dis-incentivizing development of traditional primary care drugs. The positive momentum has intensified dealmaking in the orphan drug space and is giving investors confidence to back rare disease-focused start-ups. Some have coined the resulting movement the “orphan drug bubble,” but interest isn’t likely to deflate soon – at least not as long as Big Pharma continues to invest in the area and industry is able to sustain a favorable reimbursement climate for ultra-premium-priced drugs.