AstraZeneca to buy rare disease drugmaker Caelum

Sept. 29, 2021

AstraZeneca has announced its plan to acquire Caelum Biosciences in a deal worth up to $500 million, further strengthening its focus on rare disease drugs.

The New Jersey-based company, Caelum, will become part of AstraZeneca’s Alexion division, giving AstraZeneca another potentially lucrative rare disease drug. AstraZeneca snapped up Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $39 billion earlier this year.

Alexion will buy the remaining stake it does not already own in Caelum — worth $150 million — and will be making future payments up to $350 million, contingent on the progress achieved.

Caelum's drug candidate (CAEL-101) targets treatment for AL amyloidosis, a rare life-threatening disease that damages the heart and kidneys and affects an estimated 20,000 people across six Western countries. A potential first-in-class treatment, Caelum's drug is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the abnormal proteins called amyloids that form with the disease and disrupt normal functions of organs. The drug is designed to reduce or remove amyloids to improve overall organ function.

Alexion’s CEO, Marc Dunoyer, said in a press release, “With a median survival time of less than 18 months following diagnosis, there is an urgent need for new treatments for this devastating disease. CAEL-101 has the potential to be the first therapy to target and remove amyloid deposits from organ tissues, improve organ function, and, ultimately, lead to longer lives for these patients.”

The acquisition is expected to close in early October.