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Biogen to acquire Pfizer's neurological disorder drug for $75M

Cambridge, Mass.-based pharmaceutical company Biogen Inc. said it was acquiring a Pfizer Inc. asset that could potentially treat symptoms of various psychiatric and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Biogen will make an up-front payment of $75 million for Pfizer's PF-05251749, an early-stage asset that targets casein kinase 1 — a protein responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle in the body. Disruptions in the cycle are associated with various psychiatric and neurological diseases, including symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Pfizer will also be eligible to receive up to $635 million in potential additional development and commercialization milestone payments, as well as royalties on the sales of the medicine, once it is commercialized.

Biogen plans to study Pfizer's asset as a treatment of sundowning in Alzheimer's and irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder in Parkinson's, both sleep-wake cycle-related conditions that are found in a portion of patients and affects their behavior.

"Many patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's suffer from debilitating sleep disorders and agitation, and we believe that the regulation of the circadian rhythm may hold promise in addressing these challenging behavioral and neurological symptoms," Alfred Sandrock, Biogen's chief medical officer and head of research and development, said in a statement.

The medicine could complement Biogen's existing Alzheimer's disease drug aducanumab, which was previously believed to have been scrapped off. Investors and patients had little hope for aducanumab, an amyloid-plaque cutting agent Biogen developed with Japan's Eisai Co. Ltd., after it failed a futility test in March 2019.

However, the companies surprised the market after announcing they would double down on the experimental therapy, with plans to pursue U.S. approval.

Biogen expects to close the Pfizer deal in the first quarter of 2020 and plans to start a phase 1b study of the medicine in the fourth quarter of the year.