In a strategic move to bolster its expertise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prevention, AstraZeneca has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Icosavax, Inc., a prominent US-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. This acquisition marks a significant step towards advancing AstraZeneca’s Vaccines & Immune Therapies late-stage pipeline, with a focus on developing innovative vaccines using Icosavax’s protein virus-like particle (VLP) platform.
At the heart of this agreement is Icosavax’s lead investigational vaccine candidate, IVX-A12, a potential Phase III-ready, combination protein VLP vaccine. This vaccine targets both RSV and human metapneumovirus (hMPV), addressing crucial gaps in preventive therapies for severe respiratory infections in adults aged 60 and older, as well as those with chronic conditions like cardiovascular, renal, and respiratory disease.
Currently, there are no approved treatments or preventative therapies for hMPV, and the absence of combination vaccines for RSV adds to the urgency of developing comprehensive solutions. IVX-A12 emerges as a promising candidate, demonstrating robust immune responses against RSV and hMPV in Phase II trials, with notable distinctions from currently approved RSV vaccines.
The uniqueness of IVX-A12 lies in its utilization of VLP technology, mimicking the appearance of naturally occurring viruses to the body’s immune system. This approach holds potential benefits, including a stronger immune response, broader protection, enhanced durability requiring fewer boosters, and a lower incidence of side effects compared to current adjuvanted RSV vaccines.
AstraZeneca recognizes the transformative potential of VLP vaccines in preventing severe infectious diseases. The proposed acquisition is not only set to augment AstraZeneca’s late-stage pipeline but also to leverage Icosavax’s proprietary technology and expertise in protein virus-like particle science. This collaboration aims to support the advancement of IVX-A12 and other differentiated VLP vaccines, addressing the high burden of respiratory infections.
Iskra Reic, Executive Vice President of Vaccines & Immune Therapies at AstraZeneca, expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, emphasizing its alignment with the company’s strategy to deliver a diversified portfolio of therapies and protect vulnerable populations at high risk of severe outcomes.
Adam Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of Icosavax, welcomed the acquisition as an opportunity to accelerate the development of IVX-A12 and expand access to this potential first-in-class combination vaccine. The collaboration leverages AstraZeneca’s decades of experience in RSV, providing the necessary resources and capabilities for late-stage development.
The financial aspects of the agreement involve AstraZeneca initiating a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Icosavax for $15.00 per share in cash at closing. Additional non-tradable contingent value rights of up to $5.00 per share may be payable upon achieving specified regulatory and sales milestones. The overall transaction value, including contingent payments, reflects a substantial premium to Icosavax’s market prices.
As part of the transaction, AstraZeneca will also acquire the cash and marketable securities on Icosavax’s balance sheet. This acquisition, valued at approximately $1.1 billion, underscores AstraZeneca’s commitment to advancing innovative solutions in the field of infectious diseases and respiratory health.