Alexion Acquires Swedish Treatment for Wilson’s Disease

Global Biotech Plans to Buy Swedish Specialist in Rare Diseases

Alexion Pharmaceutical intends to buy Wilson Therapeutics for nearly $1Bn.  Wilson is developing a first-in-class treatment for Wilson’s disease, a rare disorder that can lead to severe liver and brain damage.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, one of the most successful companies in rare diseases and known for selling one of the most expensive drugs in the world, has made an offer of around $855M (€690M) to acquire Wilson Therapeutics, a company that develops treatments for Wilson’s disease. The Stockholm-based company has a first-in-class treatment in Phase III development for the rare genetic disorder.

Wilson’s disease is a life-threatening genetic liver disorder that results when copper is not effectively removed from the body in bile. The accumulated copper can damage liver cells and, after entering the body’s circulation, harm the brain. This results in a variety of symptoms, including liver failure and impaired movement and speech. According to Alexion, there have been no new treatment options approved for Wilson’s disease in over two decades.

Current treatments use metal-binding compounds to remove copper from the bloodstream and prevent copper re-accumulation. WTX101, Wilson Therapeutics’ first-in-class treatment, is aimed at the 45% of patients for whom current treatments do not work. Alexion reports that the drug is 10,000 times more effective in binding copper than other treatments for Wilson’s disease.

Last year, Wilson completed a further offering on NASDAQ Stockholm that raised €24.4M. Additionally, the Swedish biotech convinced the FDA to give its drug a Fast Track designation, which would speed up the drug’s approval process if positive Phase III results are obtained. Alexion’s acquisition of Wilson might be the last step needed to make that happen.


Images by Novikov Aleksey/Shutterstock

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