News briefing: Gilead partner Galapagos sells off CRO for $37M; Polyphor bags $3.3M from CF Foundation

Close Gilead ally Galapagos is selling off one of its contract research organizations to a Polish pharma company.

Galapagos has agreed to sell 100% of the outstanding shares in the CRO Fidelta to Selvita, in a deal worth roughly $37 million expected to close in the first week of January. The acquisition is expected to nearly double Selvita’s revenues, the company says, as well as expand its drug discovery efforts.

“This is a perfect fit for us: an extensively experienced organization, with a full range of in-house drug discovery capabilities and an established track record of clinical candidate delivery,” Selvita CEO Boguslaw Sieczkowski said.

Fidelta’s main areas of focus are inflammation, fibrosis, and anti-infectives, and its R&D facility is located in Croatia. With the acquisition, Selvita hopes to boost its capacities in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, in vivo pharmacology and toxicology.

For Galapagos, the move comes on the heels of bad news after bad news following the news that one of their top development programs fell flat in a mid-stage study for osteoarthritis last month. The program missed the primary and all key secondary endpoints, and came after Gilead had invested $5 billion to collaborate with the company. — Max Gelman

Polyphor nets $3.3M from CF Foundation

The CF Foundation is best known for financing development of the Vertex CFTR inhibitors that have changed the lives of millions of people with cystic fibrosis. But the non-profit venture also doles out cash for projects that could ameliorate the various complications that come with CF, beyond the direct disease biology.

On Tuesday, the foundation gave Polyphor $3.3 million to fund a Phase Ib/IIa trial on their inhaled antibiotic for chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in cystic fibrosis. The bacteria can infect people without CF, but it is a particular threat for people with the lung disorder, even those who are on CFTR inhibitors.

Like many antibiotic companies, Polyphor has struggled over the last two years as the bitter economics of the market became increasingly clear. Making matters worse, the company had to scrap a Phase III on their lead drug in May of 2019, after kidney complications cropped up.

After raising $165 million in 2018 off the strength of that lead drug, the company has more recently turned to grants, winning up to $18.44 million this year from CARB-X. – Jason Mast

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