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Food Allergy Biotech Acquired for $2.6B

Palforzia capsules

Palforzia capsules (Aimmune Therapeutics Inc.)

31 Aug. 2020. Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., a developer of food allergy drugs, was acquired today by global consumer products company Nestlé for $2.6 billion. Aimmune Therapeutics, in Brisbane, California, develops a form of immunotherapy for food allergies, starting with peanuts.

Allergies to peanuts and other foods are a result of the body’s immune system misinterpreting certain foods as pathogens, and responding by the release of histamines, chemicals in the body causing the allergy symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms are mild, such as runny nose and itching, but people with peanut allergies face a real and elevated risk of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition constricting airways, swelling the throat, and causing a sharp drop in blood pressure. Food Allergy Research and Education says some 32 million people in the U.S. including one in every 13 children, have a food allergy, with growing numbers of people reporting an allergy.

The company’s technology known as Codit exposes people with food allergies to increasing amounts of the allergens over six months, thereby desensitizing the individuals to the allergen. Codit, says Aimmune, enhances conventional oral immunotherapies by precisely controlling the amount of offending food protein ingested by people with food allergies and establishing treatment routines that start with very small amounts and gradually increasing the amounts over time.

Aimmune’s lead product, Palforzia is an immunotherapy for peanut allergies approved in February by the Food and Drug Administration for children age 4 through 17, as reported by Science & Enterprise. Palforzia is designed to desensitize people with food allergies to allergens, proteins in food causing allergic reactions.

Treatments with Palforzia start with a very small dose of peanut protein, followed by 11 increasing dose levels over several months. Both the initial dose and at least the early stages of increasing Palforzia quantities are given under the supervision of clinicians in a health care setting, to monitor for reactions including anaphylaxis. Later stages of increasing Palforzia doses may be given at home, as well as daily maintenance doses after a safe final quantity is reached. The treatments are packaged in color-coded capsules containing precise doses of peanut powder, for mixing in semi-soft foods like pudding or applesauce.

Nestlé, based in Vevey, Switzerland, already owns a 26 percent equity stake in Aimmune Therapeutics with a series of investments that began in 2016. In the acquisition Nestlé is paying Aimmune stockholders $34.50 a share, more than 2.7 times the stock’s closing price on Friday, with the transaction valued at $2.6 billion. Aimmune is expected to join Nestlé Health Science, the company’s nutritional therapeutics subsidiary, which already offers products for cow’s milk protein allergies.

“This acquisition,” says Aimmune president and CEO Jayson Dallas in a statement, “ensures a level of support for Palforzia and our pipeline that will further enhance their potential for patients around the world living with food allergies.” Nestlé Health Science CEO Greg Behar adds, “Together we will be able to offer a wide range of solutions that can transform the lives of people suffering from food allergies around the world.”

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