Astellas Pharma has signed an agreement for the acquisition of the complete outstanding common stock and equity interests of biopharmaceutical company Propella Therapeutics in a $175m deal.

Propella leverages a platform that merges lymphatic targeting with medicinal chemistry to develop oncology therapies.

As part of the merger, being executed through a US subsidiary, Astellas will acquire Propella’s lead product candidate, PRL-02 (abiraterone decanoate), for treating prostate cancer. 

An androgen biosynthesis inhibitor, PRL-02 is an abiraterone prodrug.

This product candidate is being analysed in a Phase I clinical trial and will enter Phase IIa trials in 2024.

Astellas plans to fund the acquisition using cash on hand.

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The merger is anticipated to conclude by 31 March 2024.

Astellas president and CEO Naoki Okamura stated: “The acquisition fits with Astellas’ strategy to provide patients with therapeutic options for diseases with high unmet medical needs. 

“Propella has a promising programme, PRL-02, targeting prostate cancer. 

“We believe that the synergy with Astellas’ global development and commercialisation capabilities in the cancer and urology fields will accelerate the development of PRL-02 and deliver new value to patients with prostate cancer.”

In September 2023, Astellas announced the submission of a planning application to establish a new drug manufacturing unit in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland.

The company plans to invest €330m in the facility.