Algeta had a very intriguing idea. Treatment of bone metastases includes irradiation with external X-rays but this is of limited patient benefit. What if you could get the source of radiation inside the bone and kill tumours locally? Radium 223 is a radioactive element that has chemical properties similar to calcium. Algeta scientists showed that injections of radium into the blood led to a concentration in bone and a positive impact on patient survival. From 2004, Abingworth followed Algeta closely before leading a major recapitalisation of the company in 2009.
In 2007 Algeta completed its IPO on the Oslo exchange. We took a small position at that time and engaged in active dialogue with the company. By 2008, market conditions made it difficult to raise the additional money needed to start the pivotal Phase 3 trial. In 2009, we led a $37m financing in Algeta having set the condition that the funding had to raise enough capital to complete the trials without a pharmaceutical partner.
Abingworth joined the Board in 2009. Two US experts were then brought on to the Board to oversee clinical and regulatory issues. Investor relations advisors were engaged and banking introductions made to help internationalise awareness of the stock. In the first year after our investment the company signed an attractive deal with Bayer where Algeta retained rights to 50% of the US market. The trial was well run and stopped early because of signs of overwhelming efficacy. Bayer eventually acquired Algeta and the drug, Xofigo, is now available to patients in the US and Europe.
(metastases from prostate cancer)