The deal, in which financial terms were not disclosed, sees pharmaceutical giants Pfizer acquire Idun's intellectual property position in apoptosis. Idun's technology is focused on the control of caspase activity, which includes more than 150 patents covering drug targets, new chemical entities (NCEs), drug-screening assays, diagnostics and antibodies.
Caspases are cellular proteases involved in the pathway of apoptosis and inflammation. Idun has developed therapeutic applications focused on inhibiting caspase activity as potential treatments for liver disease and inflammation.
In addition, Idun also has programs targeting the activation of caspases as potential treatments for cancer.
The acquisition of Idun can be seen as a further step in Pfizer's strategy to augment its internal research and development efforts with high-potential, externally sourced product candidates and technologies.
Pfizer, the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company, has already purchased the UK-based company Meridica, a drug delivery technology company that designs and develops technologies for the pharmaceutical industry. Pfizer commented the move would bolster its activities in allergy and respiratory medicine.
"Idun has built a leading technology platform in controlling caspase activity and we see potential broad application of this technology in treating liver damage associated with viral and non-viral diseases," said Martin Mackay, senior vice president, worldwide research & technology for Pfizer.
Steven Mento, president and CEO of Idun added: "Pfizer is ideal to advance Idun's pipeline through the stages of development and commercialisation and provides a platform to exploit Idun's technology across various potential applications."
Pfizer are set to inherit Idun's lead compound, IDN-6556, a first-in-class pan caspase inhibitor, currently in clinical trials for liver transplantation and in patients infected with Hepatitis C virus.
Recently reported data from a Phase IIA study show that IDN-6556 given orally was well-tolerated and significantly improved markers of liver damage in patients infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), an infection that affects up to 170 million patients worldwide. IDN-6556 may represent a new class of drugs that protect the liver from inflammation and cellular damage induced by viral infections and other causes.