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17 September, 2020 - 11:27 By Tony Quested

AstraZeneca buying US tech to fight high cholesterol

Cambridge Big Biotech AstraZeneca has agreed to acquire technology from US business Dogma Therapeutics to broaden the fight against the potential killer, high cholesterol. No figures have been disclosed for the transaction.

AstraZeneca wants to buy Dogma’s preclinical oral PCSK9 inhibitor programme. The vision is to take the programme forward into clinical development for dyslipidaemia, or abnormal amount of lipids in the blood, and familial hypercholesterolemia, a common genetic condition that causes high cholesterol.

PCSK9 is a protein that regulates the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’  cholesterol in the blood. Increased activity of PCSK9 is associated with high LDL cholesterol. 

The acquired PCSK9 inhibitors are small molecules that bind directly to a novel part of PCSK9 and have shown to block its activity and lower LDL cholesterol in preclinical models.

There are currently no oral PCSK9 inhibitors available to patients or in clinical development.

Mene Pangalos, executive VP for BioPharmaceuticals R & D at AstraZeneca said: “Raised LDL cholesterol is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths worldwide every year. 

“Whilst PCSK9 is a well validated target for lowering LDL cholesterol it has been a hugely challenging target to inhibit with small molecules. This agreement with Dogma Therapeutics offers us the opportunity to develop the first small molecule, orally bioavailable PCSK9 inhibitor, for patients at risk of cardiovascular disease.”

AstraZeneca anticipates entering clinical development in 2021. Brian Hubbard, CEO at Dogma Therapeutics, said: “We have built a robust data package that highlights the cholesterol-lowering and safety potential of our oral PCSK9 programme. 

“This agreement with AstraZeneca meets our strategic goal to accelerate access to patients unable to meet target LDL cholesterol.”

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