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AbbVie (ABBV) to Boost Immunology Pipeline With New Acquisition

AbbVie Inc. ABBV recently announced that it has acquired UK-based private biotech, DJS Antibodies Ltd, to develop novel antibodies against difficult-to-drug protein targets in immunology.

DJS utilizes its proprietary HEPTAD platform for antibody discovery with specific capabilities targeting transmembrane protein targets. With the acquisition of DJS, ABBV will be able to access this unique platform, which, coupled with its own capabilities in biotherapeutics research, can be used to make antibody therapeutics against difficult-to-drug protein targets.

DJS’ lead pipeline candidate, DJS-002, a first-in-class lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 antagonist antibody, is currently in preclinical development for the treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and other fibrotic diseases.

Per the above agreement, AbbVie will make a cash payment of around $255 million upon the closing of the acquisition, while shareholders of DJS are also eligible to receive certain milestone payments upon the successful development and potential approval for DJS-002.

Shares of AbbVie have risen 5.6% so far this year against the industry’s decline of 3.7%.

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AbbVie is presently focused on strengthening its immunology portfolio through various means of partnership deals and collaborations. While its anti-inflammatory drug Humira continues to be a key revenue driver for the company, it is set to lose exclusivity in the United States next year.

In the international markets, AbbVie is already facing direct biosimilar competition from other pharma companies in Europe and other countries, resulting in a loss of product revenues.

To prepare for the loss in Humira sales due to the loss of its patent exclusivity, AbbVie has two relatively new immunology drugs, Skyrizi (risankizumab) and Rinvoq (upadacitinib), which can drive long-term growth.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

AbbVie currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector are Akero Therapeutics, Inc. AKRO, ORIC Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ORIC and Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Inc. AGLE, all carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Loss per share estimates for Akero Therapeutics narrowed 6.9% for 2022 and 4.8% for 2023 in the past 60 days.

Earnings of Akero Therapeutics surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed on the other occasion. AKRO delivered an earnings surprise of 7.66%, on average.

Loss per share estimates for ORIC Pharmaceuticals narrowed 5.9% for 2022 and 7.3% for 2023 in the past 60 days.

Earnings of ORIC Pharmaceuticals surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed on the other occasion. ORIC delivered an earnings surprise of 8.85%, on average.

Loss per share estimates for Aeglea BioTherapeutics narrowed 3.5% for 2022 and 1.2% for 2023 in the past 60 days.

Earnings of Aeglea BioTherapeutics surpassed estimates in one of the trailing four quarters and missed on the other three occasions. AGLE delivered a negative earnings surprise of 3.34%, on average.


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