Ferring to buy Rebiotix, gaining experimental microbiome treatments

Ferring Pharmaceuticals reached an agreement to purchase Rebiotix for an undisclosed amount, gaining rights to several investigational microbiome treatments, the drugmakers announced Thursday. The purchase includes Rebiotix's most advanced therapy, RBX2660, a non-antibiotic treatment currently in Phase III development for the prevention of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). 

According to Ferring and Rebiotix, the therapy has "the potential to be the first human microbiome product approved anywhere in the world." The FDA granted RBX2660 fast track status in 2013 for recurrent CDI, as well as breakthrough therapy and orphan drug designations. The treatment is also in early-stage testing for vancomycin-resistant enterococci, paediatric ulcerative colitis and multi-drug resistant urinary tract infections.

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The companies explained that Rebiotix's proprietary microbiota restoration therapy (MRT) drug platform is designed to deliver "live, human-derived microbes into the gastrointestinal tract…[and] provides a standardised, stabilised product that is ready-to-use in an easy-to-administer format." In addition to RBX2660, the MRTpipeline consists of several investigational treatments, including RBX7455, an oral treatment under development for preventing recurrent CDI.

Ferring CEO Michel Pettigrew commented that "therapies targeted towards the microbiome have the potential to transform healthcare," while the company's chief scientific officer Per Falk remarked "we're of course extremely interested in the forerunner products…however, we actually see it as the acquisition of a platform."

Meanwhile, Ferring indicated that Rebiotix will retain its name and its 45 employees, including chief executive Lee Jones, while there are no plans to disrupt Rebiotix's operations with location changes.

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