With a focus on prostate cancer, Astellas buys Propella Therapeutics

Nov. 17, 2023

Astellas, through a U.S. subsidiary, will acquire North Carolina-based Propella Therapeutics in a $175 million all-cash deal.

Through the merger agreement, Astellas will pick up Propella’s lead candidate, PRL-02 (abiraterone decanoate), a next-gen androgen biosynthesis inhibitor being developed by to treat prostate cancer.

An oral abiraterone acetate regimen already exists, in the form of J&J’s blockbuster Zytiga, approved back in 2011. But according to Propella, the Zytiga oral regimen is complex and has safety and efficacy concerns, which leads to patient compliance issues. PRL-02 is a novel, long-acting prodrug of abiraterone that, following intramuscular injection, is expected to achieve high concentrations in target tissues where the active moiety, abiraterone, is continuously released — meaning the asset may provide improved efficacy and safety compared to existing treatment options.

PRL-02 is currently in a phase 1 clinical trial and is expected to enter phase 2a trials in 2024.

Astellas expects the transaction to occur before April 2024.