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AstraZeneca to Acquire Biotech for $1.26 Billion

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The global pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca says it will acquire Ardea Biosciences Inc., a biotechnology company in San Diego developing small molecule therapies. The deal is valued at $1.26 billion, with AstraZeneca paying $32.00 a share, a 54 percent premium over Ardea’s closing price on Friday 20 April.

Ardea’s most advanced drug candidate is lesinurad taken once daily for the treatment of gout. Lesinurad is an inhibitor of transport cells in the kidney that regulates uric acid excretion from the body.  Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in blood and causes joint inflammation. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005) suggest some 6.1 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with gout, with the disease reported more often in men than in women overall, but prevalence increased with age for both.

Lesinurad is in phase 3 clinical trials as an add-on treatment to allopurinol — a treatment for high uric acid marketed as Lopurin and Zyloprim — in patients not reaching target serum uric acid levels on allopurinol alone. Other phase 3 trials are testing as lesinurad therapy alone for those patients who are intolerant to allopurinol or febuxostat — a gout treatment marketed a Uloric — and as an add-on treatment to febuxostat in patients with tophaceous gout, where masses of uric acid crystals form in soft tissue areas.

Regulatory findings for lesinurad in the U.S. and Europe are planned for the first half of 2014. AstraZeneca also plans to further develop and commercialize lesinurad in China and Japan. In addition, Ardea is developing a more potent inhibitor of uric acid regulator cells in preclinical stages known as RDEA3170 that AstraZeneca will add to its pipeline.

The merger is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2012, subject to the approval of Ardea’s shareholders as well as customary regulatory approvals.

Read more: U.K. Partnership to Test Cancer Drug Combinations

Hat tip: Fortune/Term Sheet

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