Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma has acquired US-based Potenza Therapeutics for a total consideration of up to $405m.

The deal is made possible as Astellas exercised its option to buy Potenza Therapeutics under a collaboration agreement signed in 2015 for the development of new immuno-oncology (IO) therapies.

Astellas made an upfront payment of $164.6m. Potenza will be eligible for additional payment of up to $240.1m dependent on the progress of different programmes in clinical development.

Following completion of the transaction, Potenza has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas.

Astellas Pharma president and CEO Kenji Yasukawa said: “In oncology, Astellas has focused on developing treatments for unmet medical needs with novel mechanisms of action and modalities.

“We believe the novel assets we have developed with Potenza have the potential to make an even more pronounced difference for patients in need.”

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Over their alliance period, Astellas and Potenza discovered and developed three investigational new drugs (INDs), which are ASP8374/PTZ-201, ASP1948/PTZ-329 and ASP1951/PTZ-522.

“We believe the novel assets we have developed with Potenza have the potential to make an even more pronounced difference for patients in need.”

The drug candidates are said to have the potential to treat a variety of cancers non-responsive or resistant to the current generation of IO therapies.

ASP8374/PTZ-201 is an immune checkpoint inhibitor, while ASP1948/PTZ-329 inhibits Treg function. Both the compounds are undergoing Phase I clinical trials.

ASP1951/PTZ-522 is a GITR agonistic antibody that holds investigational new drug clearance.

Potenza Therapeutics president and CEO Dan Hicklin said: “Over the past three and a half years, we have enjoyed a successful and productive partnership with Astellas.

“I am pleased that these therapies will now have access to the resources of a large international company, with world-class R&D and the strategic and financial backing to support the development of these innovative potential new medicines for cancer patients in need.”

The clinical IO therapies resulting from the partnership are expected to enable combinations with Astellas’ existing non-IO programmes for life cycle management and future IO combinations.