VectivBio’s lead investigational product is apraglutide, a next-generation, long-acting synthetic GLP-2 analog in phase 3, which is being developed for a variety of rare gastrointestinal diseases such as short bowel syndrome with intestinal failure


VectivBio to be acquired by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals has agreed to acquire clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company VectivBio for a price of around $1bn, inclusive of the latter’s debt.

Based in Basel, Switzerland, VectivBio is listed on Nasdaq. Its shareholders will be paid $17 per share in cash by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, which is a gastrointestinal (GI) focused healthcare company based in the US.

The Swiss firm is involved in discovering and developing treatments for severe, rare conditions. These include short bowel syndrome with intestinal failure (SBS-IF) and acute graft versus host disease (aGvHD).

VectivBio’s lead investigational product is apraglutide, which is a next-generation, long-acting synthetic GLP-2 analog. The asset is being developed for a variety of rare gastrointestinal diseases.

To date, apraglutide is said to have yielded compelling results and presently is in phase 3 development with the findings expected to be released by the end of this year.

VectivBio CEO and founder Luca Santarelli said: “Ironwood’s capabilities and established track record in GI make it the ideal company to bring apraglutide, if approved, to patients suffering from SBS-IF and other serious GI conditions. We believe this Transaction represents the best outcome for our patients and shareholders.”

According to Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, on the basis of potency and pharmacological properties and a weekly dosing option, apraglutide can possibly become the best-in-class GLP-2 therapy for the treatment of SBS-IF.

If the drug candidate is successful in proving clinical benefit for both SBS-IF stoma and colon-in-continuity patients in the phase 3 study and subsequently approved, it could reach peak net sales of $1bn, said Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals CEO Tom McCourt said: “The acquisition of VectivBio, including its compelling asset, apraglutide, is an ideal strategic fit with Ironwood.

“With the success of our blockbuster product, LINZESS, we have built a strong GI commercial function, healthy cash flow generation, and meaningful EBITDA.

“We are confident that with our GI expertise, commercial capabilities, and robust balance sheet, we are well-positioned to continue developing apraglutide, with the goal of getting it into the hands of the patients who need it the most and potentially generate significant and sustainable value for shareholders.”

The deal has the backing of Orbimed, Versant Ventures, and Forbion as well VectivBio’s directors and officers, who put together hold 28.6% stake in the Swiss company.

Subject to certain conditions like tendering of more than 80% of VectivBio’s shares, and others, the deal is expected to close in the latter half of this year.