Nestlé Health Science, Epalinges, Switzerland, said in November it will make an equity investment of $145 million in Aimmune Therapeutics to accelerate the development of oral immunotherapy biologics designed to desensitize people with food allergies and protect them from the consequences of accidental exposure. The investment will give Nestle a 15 percent stake in the publicly held, Brisbane, Calif., company.
Up to 250 million people globally are estimated to suffer from food allergies, 5-8 percent of children and 1-2 percent of adults. Among the top eight food allergies, peanut allergy – generally a lifelong condition – is estimated to impact 6 million people in the U.S. and in Europe or 0.6-1.3 percent of the U.S. population.
Aimmune’s Characterized Oral Desensitization ImmunoTherapy (CODIT) approach to treating life-threatening food allergies is based on extensive independent scientific research demonstrating that most patients with food allergies can become desensitized to the allergens, or proteins, in a particular food through the oral administration of gradually increasing amounts of the allergens. It aims to provide a transformative treatment option that goes beyond the current standard of care of diligent avoidance of food allergens and carrying epinephrine for administration in case of accidental exposure.
Aimmune’s lead CODIT product candidate, AR101 for peanut allergy, is a characterized, regulated, oral biological drug product containing the protein profile found in peanuts. It's designed to desensitize patients with peanut allergy. The ongoing Phase III trial, conducted by Aimmune, is expected to deliver results in the fourth quarter of 2017, which – if positive – may support the filing of marketing authorization in the U.S. and Europe. Per the terms of this collaboration agreement, Aimmune retains the rights to AR101 and all other pipeline assets developed with the CODIT approach.
The investment extends Nestlé Health Science’s interests in the food allergy arena. Nestlé Health Science already has an established portfolio of nutritional solutions for pediatric food allergy and intolerances, especially Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA), as well as an awareness tool – CoMiSS (Cow’s Milk-related Symptom Score) – which enables primary healthcare professionals to earlier recognize and assess symptoms that may be related to CMPA in infants. Earlier this year the company partnered with DBV Technologies on the development of a skin-patch test tool for the improved diagnosis of CMPA.
Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science, who will take a seat on the Aimmune Board, stated: “Food allergies have a huge personal impact and are a health economic burden. We are investing and innovating to change the approach to food allergy management with integrated approaches from diagnostics to nutrition solutions and now biologics, where Aimmune’s proprietary approach has transformational potential in lives of patients and families.”
The strategic investment launches a two-year collaboration between Nestlé Health Science and Aimmune, the terms of which enable the parties to engage in Aimmune’s current and future oral immunotherapy development programs through a newly established pipeline forum. Nestlé Health Science will provide ongoing scientific, regulatory and commercial expertise and advice to Aimmune through the pipeline forum and in addition has a three-month exclusive right of first negotiation for any development program in the event Aimmune considers licensing or partnering such a program.