September 14, 2011

Mass High Tech

Acceleron begins anemia drug trial, triggers $7.5M pay

Acceleron Pharma Inc., a Cambridge-based biomedical company, said it has launched a Phase 1 clinical trial of its ACE-536 anemia treatment candidate, which will trigger a $7.5 million milestone payment from collaborator Celgene Corp. of New Jersey.

The Phase 1 trial is a multiple-dose escalating study that aims to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug. The deal with Celgene is expected to bring in $25 million up front to Acceleron and double-digit royalties on global net sales, as well as up to a total of $217 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. The deal follows a 2008 agreement the two companies made around another anemia treatment called sotatercept (ACE-011). That deal was predicted to bring a potential $1.9 billion to Acceleron.

ACE-356 is the fourth drug discovered by Acceleron to enter human clinical trials in the past five years. The company focuses on protein therapeutics for cancer and orphan diseases. ACE-356 is a ligand trap that increases red blood cells and hemoglobin by inhibiting TGF-beta superfamily members involved in the late stages of red blood cell production.

Privately held Acceleron is backed by Advanced Technology Ventures, Alkermes, Bessemer Ventures, Celgene, Flagship Ventures, MPM BioEquities, OrbiMed Advisors, Polaris Ventures, QVT Financial, Sutter Hill Ventures and Venrock. The company was co-founded in 2004 by former Mass High Tech All-Star Christoph Westphal, founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. and president of GlaxoSmithKline plc venture investing arm SR One, which he said in April he plans to leave to focus on Longwood Founders Fund, an independent venture capital fund he co-founded.