German Biotech Breath Therapeutics Acquired in Deal Worth up to €500M

The Italian company Zambon has acquired the German biotech Breath Therapeutics for up to €500M, getting hold of its treatment for a rare lung disease known as popcorn lung.

The deal includes an upfront payment of €140M and up to €360M upon reaching undisclosed regulatory milestones. Zambon will take over the development of a treatment for bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, a rare inflammatory lung condition that can be triggered by lung infections or receiving a lung transplant. The disease is known as popcorn lung because workers in factories developed the condition from breathing in a chemical used for flavoring popcorn in 2000.

Current treatments for the condition include oral immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine or steroid drugs. However, these treatments are not very effective in the lungs and can weaken the immune system against infections. Instead, Breath Therapeutics is developing an inhaled form of cyclosporine, which could make it more effective in the lungs with less impact on the immune system’s ability to fight infection.

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The treatment is being tested in two phase III trials in patients that have received lung transplants, with results expected by 2021. If all goes to plan, Zambon could see the treatment in the market by 2023. 

A spinoff from the German inhalation therapy company PARI Pharma, Breath Therapeutics has been well funded since the beginning. The company raised an impressive Series A of €43.5M to move its treatments to phase III trials in 2017.

Milan-based Zambon sees Breath Therapeutics as a good fit for its company strategy. Zambon has drugs in phase III for hard-to-treat lung diseases including cystic fibrosis and non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis.


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