Japanese firm Astellas Pharma has exercised its exclusive option right to acquire US-based biotechnology company Mitobridge to accelerate the discovery and development of new treatments that target mitochondrial functions.

The acquisition has been carried out under the amended terms of the partnership agreement signed in October 2013, which established the research and development (R&D) collaboration between the two companies.

Under the deal, Astellas will make an upfront payment of $225m to purchase Mitobridge.

“The achievements resulting from the collaboration have exceeded our expectations, including the rapid advancement of multiple programmes.”

In addition, Mitobridge will be eligible for additional payments totalling up to $225m, depending on the progress of various programmes in clinical development.

Being a shareholder in Mitobridge, Astellas will make an actual payment of $165.5m.

The amount assumes the current Astellas’ shares on a fully diluted basis.

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The remaining amount will be adjusted depending on the cash and cash equivalents held by Mitobridge at the closing.

Astellas president and CEO Yoshihiko Hatanaka said: “Astellas has increased the involvement in mitochondrial drug discovery through its partnership with Mitobridge and the network of key scientists that the company has assembled.

“The achievements resulting from the collaboration have exceeded our expectations, including the rapid advancement of multiple programmes.

“Through the acquisition of Mitobridge, Astellas accelerates our investment in diseases caused by mitochondria dysfunctions in order to deliver innovative new treatment options to patients.”

The new drug candidates co-developed by Astellas and Mitobridge have the potential to treat genetic, metabolic or neurodegenerative disorders, in addition to addressing conditions of ageing.

The most advanced investigational therapy resulting from the partnership, MA-0211 is currently in Phase I clinical studies for the potential treatment of duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

With the completion of the transaction, Mitobridge will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and expected to be finalised over the next several weeks.