Biogen has signed a definitive agreement to acquire clinical-stage biotechnology company Human Immunology Biosciences (HI-Bio) in a $1.8bn deal.

The clinical-stage biotechnology company is eligible to receive an upfront payment of $1.15bn from Biogen with additional milestone payments of up to $650m linked to the development of felzartamab programmes.

The acquisition strengthens Biogen’s late-stage pipeline and enhances its immunology portfolio.

The company plans to finance the purchase through cash reserves and may utilise its revolving credit facility.

HI-Bio specialises in targeted treatments for severe immune-mediated diseases (IMDs).

Its lead asset, felzartamab, is a fully human anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody.

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Clinical studies have demonstrated the antibody’s potential to selectively deplete CD38+ cells, which include plasma cells and natural killer cells, potentially improving outcomes in immune-mediated ailments.

The US Food and Drug Administration previously awarded breakthrough therapy and orphan drug (ODD) designations for felzartamab to treat primary membranous nephropathy.

The product also obtained ODD for antibody-mediated rejection in kidney transplant recipients.

Beyond felzartamab, HI-Bio’s pipeline includes izastobart/HIB210 in Phase I trial for complement-mediated diseases and discovery-stage mast cell programmes for complement and immune-mediated diseases.

Biogen plans to retain HI-Bio’s talent, establishing a team in the San Francisco Bay area to enhance its focus on immune-mediated diseases.

The acquisition is expected to conclude in the third quarter of 2024.

Biogen Development head Priya Singhal stated: “We believe this late-stage asset, which has demonstrated impact on key biomarkers and clinical endpoints in three renal diseases with serious unmet needs, is a strategic addition to the Biogen portfolio as we continue to augment our pipeline and build on our expertise in immunology.

“We look forward to welcoming HI-Bio employees into Biogen and working together to advance potential therapies for patients with rare immune diseases with high unmet need.”

In April 2024 Biogen reported net income of $393.4m in Q1 2024, an increase from $387.6m in the same period of the previous year.