Drug News

Astellas to Acquire Propella Therapeutics in Strategic Merger

In a major development in the pharmaceutical landscape, Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503), led by President and CEO Naoki Okamura, and Propella Therapeutics, Inc., headed by President and CEO William Moore, have jointly announced a merger agreement. Astellas, through a U.S. subsidiary, is set to acquire Propella, a privately held biopharmaceutical company renowned for its innovative approach to oncology drug development.

Propella has distinguished itself through a proprietary platform that fuses medicinal chemistry with lymphatic targeting, yielding novel oncology drugs with enhanced efficacy and safety profiles. The focal point of this strategic acquisition is PRL-02 (abiraterone decanoate), a next-generation androgen biosynthesis inhibitor specifically designed for the treatment of prostate cancer. PRL-02, currently in Phase 1 clinical trials, is a long-acting prodrug of abiraterone, exhibiting high CYP17 lyase inhibition selectivity. The anticipated benefits of PRL-02 include improved efficacy and safety compared to existing treatment options. It is slated to enter Phase 2a clinical trials in 2024.

In expressing his views on the acquisition, Naoki Okamura, President and CEO of Astellas, highlighted its alignment with Astellas’ strategic vision to address unmet medical needs. He emphasized the potential of Propella’s flagship program, PRL-02, in targeting prostate cancer. Okamura anticipates that Astellas’ global development and commercialization capabilities in cancer and urology will expedite PRL-02’s development, ultimately delivering significant value to patients.

William Moore, President and CEO of Propella, appreciates the fact that Astellas recognizes and values the potential of PRL-02 as a leading therapeutic option for prostate cancer. Moore conveyed his commitment to supporting Astellas in accelerating PRL-02’s development, aiming to enhance treatment options for prostate cancer patients on a global scale.

Under the terms of the agreement, Astellas will pay approximately US$175 million to acquire all outstanding common stock and equity interests in Propella. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be finalized during Astellas’ fiscal year 2023, concluding on March 31, 2024. The financial impact of this acquisition on Astellas’ results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, is anticipated to be limited.

Overview of Propella Therapeutics, Inc.:

•          Company: Propella Therapeutics, Inc.

•          Location: Pittsboro, North Carolina, US

•          Leadership: President & CEO, William Moore

•          Year of Establishment: 2020

•          Employees: 5 employees (as of end of October 2023)

•          Business Focus: Development of best- or first-in-class oncology drugs using a unique platform combining medicinal chemistry with lymphatic targeting.

Overview of Astellas Pharma Inc.:

•          Company: Astellas Pharma Inc.

•          Location: Global presence, conducting business in over 70 countries.

•          Focus: Focus Area Approach to identify opportunities for creating new drugs addressing diseases with high unmet medical needs. Developing Rx+® healthcare solutions by combining expertise with cutting-edge technology.

This strategic move and other key partnerships recently entered into by Astellas Pharma Inc. marks a significant step forward in the oncology drug development landscape, with the potential to reshape treatment options for prostate cancer patients globally. The acquisition reflects Astellas’ commitment to advancing innovative science and delivering transformative healthcare solutions.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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