Pearl's porous particle platform nets $1.15B AstraZeneca buyout

In its $1.15 billion buyout of Pearl Therapeutics this week, AstraZeneca ($AZN) bolstered its late-stage drug development with a Phase III inhaled delivery platform to treat respiratory diseases.

Pearl's lead therapeutic PT003 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a twice-daily inhaled combination drug delivered with the company's porous particle platform. The porous particles are designed to make the aerosol more uniform, consistent and reliable with a stable suspension of active ingredients. In the case of PT003, the delivery platform allows for the combination of glycopyrrolate and formoterol to clear a patient's airway for over 12 hours at a time, the first of its kind.

The AstraZeneca buyout comes with $560 million to start, plus potentially $450 million in developmental milestones and $140 million in sales goals. With Phase III having begun only a few weeks ago, the company plans to roll out the treatment by the middle of 2015, according to a release. Pearl has several other drugs in the pipeline that make use of the delivery platform, including both combination therapies like PT003 and monotherapies for COPD and asthma.

For Pearl, the cash is another windfall in a successful 5-year run, having raised a total of $167.5 million in that time, and CEO Chuck Bramlage told FierceBiotech this week that the company hopes to continue as a separate division of the larger company to keep the momentum going: "They know how fast we've moved and they don't want to disrupt our speed through submission," Bramlage said.

Kevin Ferro, chairman of the board at Pearl and CEO of lead investor Vatera Healthcare Partners, said in a statement: "We believe AstraZeneca will provide a significant value in supporting the further development and registration of our lead product, PT003, and in leveraging our technology platform to realize future products including a triple agent therapy for respiratory disease."

- here's the release
- and here's FierceBiotech's take