Baxter International Inc.
) revealed that it has acquired privately-owned orphan drug
(pharmaceutical drug used for treating rare disease) producer in
the U.S. AesRx, LLC that will help it address a highly unmet
clinical need of patients suffering from blood-related disorders.
AesRx is renowned for its novel Aes-103 drug used in the treatment
for sickle cell disease (SCD) aka sickle-cell anaemia (SCA). As
part of the deal, BAX is acquiring the development and
commercialization rights of Aes-103.
BAX acquired the company by making an initial payment. The company
will make additional future payments based on development,
regulatory and commercial milestones.
A Brief Note about SCD
SCD is basically a hereditary blood disorder, which causes red
blood cells to assume an abnormal rigid sickle shape that could
eventually block capillaries and small blood vessels.
SCD could lead to serious or fatal complications (such as chronic
hemolytic anemia, chronic pain, acute painful crisis, stroke, acute
chest syndrome, and cumulative damage to tissues and organs) and
reduce life expectancy.
More than 13 million people around the world suffer from SCD.
Roughly 100,000 people are affected by SCD in the U.S. and 40,000
in Europe. It mainly afflicts people of African origin as well as
of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern descent.
How Aes-103 Works?
Aes-103 is a tiny molecule compound (5-hydroxymethylfurfural) that
works by binding to hemoglobin and increasing oxygen affinity and
stabilization, leading to reduction in sickling of red blood cells
and thereby lowering sickling-related outcomes such as
vaso-occlusive crisis, pain, severe anemia, and fatigue.
Aes-103 has received Orphan designation from the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA). It is also eligible for Orphan designation in
Currently, Aes-103 is in a Phase 2 clinical trial as part of an
ongoing collaboration with the NIH's National Center for Advancing
Translational Sciences (NCATS) through its Therapeutics for Rare
and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program.
The Aes-103 compound was originally patented by Virginia
Commonwealth University and developed by a team from the VCU
Institute for Structural Biology and Drug Discovery, an
interdisciplinary research center spanning the university's Schools
of Medicine and Pharmacy.
In April this year, BAX announced plans to acquire Chapel Hill,
NC-based gene therapy-mediated cures developer Chatham
Therapeutics, LLC for an initial payment of $70 million.
BAX already has collaboration with Chatham Therapeutics since May
2012. The collaboration was aimed at evaluating Chatham's
Biological Nano Particle (BNP) platform, which is an advanced
recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-based gene therapy
The BNP platform is considered as an effective treatment for
hemophilia B, known as BAX 335, which is currently in a Phase I/II
study. It helps the patient's own liver to begin producing FIX
following a single dose of the genetically engineered treatment.
Post-acquisition, BAX will gain broader access to Chatham's gene
therapy platform, including the previously partnered hemophilia B
(FIX) program, a preclinical hemophilia A (FVIII) program, and the
future application to additional hemophilia treatments. It will
help the company develop and commercialize treatments for
Currently, BAX retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked
stocks in the medical products industry are
OraSure Technologies, Inc.
Wright Medical Group Inc.
Both OraSure Technologies and Hospira retain a Zacks Rank #1
(Strong Buy), while Wright Medical Group carries a Zacks Rank #2
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