Rare Diseases

AZ farms out rare disease therapy to Mereo


AstraZeneca has licensed an experimental rare disease therapy to UK-based Mereo BioPharma, as it continues to shed products outside of its area of strategic focus.

Under the deal, Mereo is making an upfront cash payment of $3 million and handing over 490,798 of its shares in return for access to AZD9668, which is being developed as a treatment for the alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD).

AATD is a genetic disorder affecting around 100,000 patients in the US and 120,000 patients in Europe. The deficiency can cause severe debilitating conditions such as chronic liver disease but, most notably, pulmonary emphysema.

Pulmonary emphysema results in irreversible destruction of the tissues supporting the function of the lungs and causing severe shortness of breath and…