Driving Innovation in Life Sciences: Building Anthos Therapeutics
The life sciences industry has seen an explosion in innovation over the past two decades, driven by rapid advancements in our understanding of human biology. This innovation is creating a tremendous number of promising new treatments, often more than can be adequately funded – forcing biopharmaceutical companies to prioritize based on the financial realities and risks of drug development.
This can cause promising treatments to languish in development and leave the needs of many patients unmet – such as those suffering from strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms. These thrombotic events cause an estimated one in four deaths worldwide per year, making them collectively the leading cause of death. However, many patients don’t receive optimal therapy because they’re especially at risk of excess bleeding from use of conventional blood thinners.
At Blackstone, we believe private capital has an important role to play in advancing innovative therapies and driving growth, especially in industries like life sciences that require substantial up-front investment to fund research and development. We launched Blackstone Life Sciences (BXLS) to build businesses and invest behind potentially lifesaving products.
Anthos Therapeutics was founded by Blackstone Life Sciences in 2019 and obtained from Novartis Pharma AG the exclusive global rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialize abelacimab, a promising novel therapy being developed for patients at high risk of blood clots. In the recent AZALEA-TIMI-71 clinical study, the largest and longest of its kind, abelacimab showed an unprecedented 67% reduction in bleeding compared to a current standard of care and blockbuster drug. Abelacimab also reduced the risk of potentially life-threatening major bleeding events by 74% and gastrointestinal bleeding by 93%.
What is abelacimab?
Patients taking conventional blood thinners risk bleeding from even small injuries because those medicines, while effective at preventing dangerous blood clots, also interfere with healthy blood clotting processes and can cause excessive bleeding. Abelacimab has the potential to separate the reactions that are needed for healthy blood clotting from unhealthy ones — representing a paradigm shift in antithrombotic treatment.
One of Blackstone Life Sciences’ core opportunities is to own and develop innovative medicines that otherwise would not advance within a large biopharmaceutical company because of a shift in strategic focus. Before Anthos’ launch, Novartis was looking for ways to invest behind this product while trying to decide if they should remain active in the cardiovascular space. We offered Novartis a solution that enabled the development of this promising product by BXLS. Our investment not only revived the effort to bring abelacimab to market, but also rapidly accelerated its anticipated development timeline.
In addition to investing behind abelacimab, BXLS provided Anthos support beyond just capital. As industry veterans with deep expertise – including 14 ex-CEOs and 28 MD/PhDs on the team – BXLS provided Anthos vital guidance on trial design and execution and played an important role in building the Anthos board and leadership team, sourcing experts from our network to join as CEO, CMO, COO, CFO and CCO.
John Glasspool is CEO and member of the Board of Directors of Anthos Therapeutics. Prior to joining Anthos, Mr. Glasspool served in a number of roles at Novartis Pharma, including Global Head of Cardiovascular & Metabolism Business Franchise.
Describe abelacimab’s latest Phase 2 trial. How did the treatment perform?
John Glasspool: This study covered over 1,200 patients with atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat – a condition that affects 37 million people worldwide and puts them at moderate-to-high risk of stroke. This was the largest and longest study of its kind, and it showed a highly significant reduction in bleeding with abelacimab compared to a standard-of-care blood thinner, a direct-oral anticoagulant (DOAC).
Why are these findings significant in the landscape of antithrombotic treatments?
JG: We see this as a landmark study and, if approved, a transformational moment for patients. The risk of bleeding – or the fear of it – prevents many patients from living in optimal health, limiting their usual activities. By separating “good” clotting from “bad” clotting, abelacimab would allow these patients to receive the care they need and open up the door to healthier, more active lifestyles.
What’s next for Anthos?
JG: With Blackstone’s support, we’ll be able to continue the exciting development of abelacimab in Phase 3 studies which are currently underway across the world, with the hope to get it to patients.
Anthos demonstrates the power of BXLS’ approach: by investing capital and deep clinical expertise into the development of treatments, we can help bring therapies to market with the potential to substantially improve patient outcomes.
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