News

Thunderbolt Pharma, Inc., a Vitesse Biologics Company, Acquires Rights to BAFF/APRIL Dual Antagonist Program from Astellas Pharma Inc.

Bannockburn, IL, South San Francisco, CA and Tokyo, Japan, – May 24, 2016

First company established under Vitesse Biologics, an innovative collaboration formed by Baxalta, Mayo Clinic and Velocity Pharmaceutical Development

Thunderbolt Pharma, Inc., will use technology to develop potential treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus and other B-cell mediated disorders

Baxalta Incorporated (NYSE: BXLT), Velocity Pharmaceutical Development, LLC (VPD) and Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE:4503) today announced that Thunderbolt, Inc., a company established by Vitesse Biologics, acquired all rights to the Astellas BAFF/APRIL dual antagonist program through an asset purchase agreement. The BAFF/APRIL dual antagonists will be developed for B cell disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus.

"With this asset purchase from Astellas and the creation of Thunderbolt, we are excited to begin to accelerate the development of the BAFF/APRIL dual antagonist program with the potential to deliver innovative treatments for patients with unmet needs," said John Orloff, M.D., head of Research & Development and chief scientific officer, Baxalta. "This is the first company formed under the Vitesse Biologics platform, and we look forward to continuing to build our portfolio to explore new concepts and technologies."

"We are pleased to have created this first company as a result of the novel model in drug development which leverages the basic science and clinical expertise of Mayo Clinic researchers with the drug development and manufacturing expertise of our partners, to accelerate patient therapies for B cell disorders," said Andrew D. Badley, M.D., Director of Drug Discovery and the Office of Translation to Practice, Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCaTS) at Mayo Clinic. "Mayo researchers pursue discoveries that will deliver hope and better health to people today and into the future."

"I am really pleased that Velocity, Mayo Clinic and Baxalta which have strong capabilities of antibody and protein-based therapeutics in the areas of immunology, hematology, and oncology will proceed the development of BAFF/APRIL dual antagonist," said Kenji Yasukawa, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer, Astellas. "We expect that innovative treatments could be delivered for patients who suffer from B cell disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus."

Thunderbolt is the first company established by Vitesse Biologics, a unique collaboration model formed by Baxalta, Mayo Clinic and VPD focused on the development of antibody and protein-based therapeutics in the areas of immunology, hematology and oncology. Baxalta, the Mayo Clinic, VPD and Astellas are all shareholders in Thunderbolt.

Baxalta, Mayo Clinic and VPD will each contribute to the development costs associated with the program. Through Vitesse, Baxalta will provide global commercialization, antibody and protein development and manufacturing capabilities; through the Office of Translation to Practice, Mayo Clinic clinicians and researchers advise on selection of preclinical candidates, disease indications, and the design and conduct of Phase 1 clinical trials; and VPD will be responsible for target identification, selection of early stage drug candidates, will lead the design and execution of pre-clinical testing and advise the early clinical protocols.