Aclaris Therapeutics (ACRS) to Acquire Vixen Pharma and Rights to Intellectual Property for Potential Treatment for Hair Loss

March 28, 2016 4:10 PM EDT

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Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACRS), a clinical stage specialty pharmaceutical company, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the stockholders of Vixen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Vixen) to acquire all of the stock of Vixen. As a result of this transaction, Aclaris acquired worldwide rights to intellectual property licensed to Vixen by Columbia University covering the use of certain Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor compounds for the treatment of alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia and other dermatological conditions. Aclaris has agreed to make an upfront payment and various development and commercial milestone payments, as well as additional payments on potential sales of products using the acquired intellectual property rights.

In a separate transaction, in November 2015, Aclaris’ wholly owned subsidiary, Aclaris Therapeutics International Ltd. (ATIL), entered into a license agreement with JAKPharm LLC and Key Organics. ATIL exclusively licensed worldwide rights to covalently binding, highly selective JAK3 inhibitor compounds and related intellectual property for the treatment of hair loss and other dermatological conditions. ATIL made an upfront payment to JAKPharm and Key Organics and has agreed to make various development milestone payments and tiered royalties on potential sales of products that incorporate the licensed compounds.

These transactions significantly expand Aclaris’ JAK inhibitor portfolio and further demonstrate its commitment to the development of potential hair loss treatments.

“The acquisition of the Vixen intellectual property and the licensed JAKPharm and Key Organics compounds solidifies Aclaris’ presence in the JAK inhibitor space and allows us to broaden our focus in hair loss to include androgenetic alopecia, often referred to as female or male pattern baldness,” said Neal Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aclaris. “With this expansion of our pipeline, we continue to pursue our core strategy of developing and commercializing self-pay aesthetic and medical dermatology products for which there is a significant unmet need.”

The discovery of the relationship between JAK inhibition and hair loss was made by a team of researchers at Columbia University, led by Dr. Angela M. Christiano. The potential clinical efficacy of JAK inhibitors in patients with alopecia areata was described in their groundbreaking Nature Medicine paper (1), followed by the discovery of a role for JAK inhibitors in triggering the normal hair cycle (2).

“We are delighted to enter into this agreement with Aclaris for the development of JAK inhibitors for alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia, and other hair loss disorders,” said Dr. Christiano. “Aclaris has made a strong commitment to research and development for hair disorders, and we look forward to Aclaris bringing JAK inhibitors to the clinic, particularly for alopecia areata.”

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