Cubist Grabs Option to Acquire Adynxx, Getting Drug for Pain

2/25/13Follow @xconomy

Cubist Pharmaceuticals has been looking to diversify for a while, to get something more than antibiotics it can sell to hospitals. Now it’s getting the rights to what it hopes will be a big new pain drug.

The Lexington, MA-based biotech company (NASDAQ: CBST) said today it has obtained an exclusive right to acquire San Francisco-based Adynxx when it has results from an ongoing mid-stage clinical trial of its lead drug candidate, AYX1. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but Adynxx is getting a cash payment now and will get more if Cubist chooses to exercise its right to acquire the company. The venture capital firm Domain Associates, the primary backer of Adynxx, has now arranged to sell two companies to Cubist within the past four years. The other one was San Diego-based Calixa Therapeutics, an antibiotic developer.

Adynxx (pronounced uh-DYE-nix) was founded in 2007 by Julien Mamet, and received an $18 million Series A venture financing of $18 million from Domain in 2010. The idea, which I wrote about last August, is to come up with a new kind of pain reliever that could reduce acute pain, and chronic post-surgical pain, through a different biological mechanism than the existing non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, or the addictive opioid-based pain relievers like oxycodone and morphine.

Mike Bonney, CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Adynxx’s drug is an oligonucleotide designed to be given as an intrathecal (spinal) injection in the hospital. It’s supposed to inhibit a genetic transcription factor called EGR1, which turns on various pain pathways when stimulated with a very specific painful experience—like a surgeon’s scalpel cutting through tissues. By inhibiting EGR1, Adynnx is hoping to stop pain pathways from sending signals to the brain, either on neurological or inflammatory routes. The drug is now being tested in a placebo-controlled study of 95 patients, which is expected to generate data by July, according  to a posting on clinicaltrials.gov.

“This option agreement with Adynxx is an example of our disciplined efforts to expand our acute care pipeline,” said Steven Gilman, Cubist’s chief scientific officer, in a statement. “We are impressed with the pre-clinical and Phase 1 results to date of AYX1 and believe this program has the potential to become an important new therapy that may help patients to address the significant issue of post-surgical and chronic pain.”

Rick Orr, Adynxx’s CEO added: “We believe AYX1 has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of post-surgical pain. Based on the growing need for new pain therapies that offer more than temporary symptom relief, Adynxx is committed to developing AYX1 as rapidly and robustly as possible. Given Cubist’s proven expertise in the hospital setting, this agreement maximizes our chances of bringing this transformative therapy to market.”

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