Sanofi has signed an agreement for the acquisition of all outstanding shares of publicly traded clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Inhibrx for an equity value of $1.7bn.

Inhibrx has an extensive pipeline of new biologic therapeutic candidates, primarily focusing on oncology and orphan diseases.

One of its key assets, INBRX-101, is a human recombinant protein being developed to treat patients with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), an inherited rare disease.

INBRX-101 could potentially reduce inflammation and avert further lung function decline in AATD patients.

The therapeutic has completed a Phase I clinical trial with positive safety and pharmacokinetics results. It is now being analysed in a Phase II clinical trial.

Inhibrx shareholders will receive one non-transferable contingent value right (CVR) per share as a result of the acquisition.

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The CVR entitles the holder to a deferred cash payment of $5 on meeting a regulatory milestone, potentially adding $296m in consideration.

Inhibrx will spin off its non-INBRX-101 assets, including immuno-oncology pipelines, into a newly formed entity, New Inhibrx.

Shareholders of Inhibrx will receive 0.25 shares of New Inhibrx per Inhibrx share while Sanofi will hold an 8% equity stake in New Inhibrx.

Inhibrx founder and CEO Mark Lappe will spearhead New Inhibrx as chairman and CEO.

Sanofi is planning to fund the acquisition using its available cash resources.

Sanofi research and development head HoumanAshrafian stated: “The addition of INBRX-101 as a high potential asset to our rare disease portfolio reinforces our strategy to commit to differentiated and potential best-in-class products.

“With our expertise in rare diseases and growing presence in immune-mediated respiratory conditions, INBRX-101 will complement our approach to deploy research and development efforts in key areas of focus and address the needs of the underserved AATD patients and communities.”

The boards of directors of both companies have granted unanimous approval for the deal, which will conclude in the second quarter of 2024.

The latest development comes after Sanofi signed a multi-year research collaboration deal with Aqemia to develop small molecule drug candidates for undisclosed therapeutic areas.