GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to acquire biopharmaceutical company Sierra Oncology in a deal worth £1.5 billion, the company has announced.
Sierra Oncology is a late-stage company focused on targeted therapies for the treatment of rare forms of cancer. The company’s lead asset, momelotinib, is being investigated as a treatment for myelofibrosis – a fatal cancer of the bone marrow impacting the normal production of blood cells.
In January 2022, Sierra Oncology announced positive topline results from a phase III clinical trial investigating the drug in 195 patients. The study met all primary and key secondary endpoints, demonstrating that momelotinib achieved a statistically significant and clinically meaningful benefit on symptoms, splenic response, and anaemia.1
Patients diagnosed with myelofibrosis are usually treated with the most commonly used Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor and will often require transfusions. However, it’s thought that around 30% of patients will discontinue treatment due to anaemia – a highly unmet need in patients with myelofibrosis.
Momelotinib has a differentiated mode of action with inhibitory ability along three key signalling pathways: activin A receptor, type I (ACVR1)/activin receptor-like kinase-2 (ALK2), JAK 1, and JAK2. This activity may lead to beneficial treatment effects on anaemia and reduce transfusion dependence while treating myelofibrosis symptoms and splenic response.
GSK will use momelotinib to complement its expertise in haematology. The company states the acquisition aligns with its strategy of building a strong portfolio of new specialty medicines and vaccines. If the transaction is completed and momelotinib is approved by regulatory authorities, GSK expects momelotinib will contribute to GSK’s growing specialty medicines business, with sales expected to begin in 2023.
Luke Miels, Chief Commercial Officer, GSK said: “Sierra Oncology complements our commercial and medical expertise in haematology. Momelotinib offers a differentiated treatment option that could address the significant unmet medical needs of myelofibrosis patients with anaemia, the major reason patients discontinue treatment. With this proposed acquisition, we have the opportunity to potentially bring meaningful new benefits to patients and further strengthen our portfolio of specialty medicines.”
Stephen Dilly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sierra Oncology said: “Uniting with GSK creates the best opportunity for Sierra Oncology to realise its mission of delivering targeted therapies that treat rare forms of cancer while also delivering compelling and certain value for our stockholders. Now we have a partner with a global infrastructure and oncology expertise that enables us to deliver momelotinib to patients as quickly as possible and on a global scale.”