Amgen has hit the acquisition trail again and is buying privately-owned KAI Pharmaceuticals for $315 million in cash.

For its money, the world's largest biotech is getting access to the South San Francisco-based firm's KAI-4169, a novel peptide agonist of the calcium sensing receptor which affects calcium homeostasis by modulating the release of parathyroid hormone. The drug is in Phase II and is being initially studied for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who are on dialysis.

SHPT, a component of CKD mineral and bone disorder, is a common and serious complication for patients with CKD who are on dialysis, noted Amgen, which will acquire worldwide rights to KAI-4169, excluding Japan. The rights in the latter country are held by Ono Pharmaceutical Co.

Amgen has provided a loan to enable Phase III development planning for KAI-4169 prior to closing. Sean Harper, Amgen's head of R&D, said "we are excited about acquiring KAI, as well as the opportunity to potentially deliver a novel therapy for CKD patients on dialysis suffering from SHPT”.

Steve James, KAI's chief executive, added that his firm "and the nephrology community are excited by the additional clinical data we’ve generated for KAI-4169, and we are thrilled that Amgen shares our perspective on the differentiated profile and potential of this product candidate".

Amgen currently markets another drug for SHPT, namely Sensipar (cinacalcet), which is sold as Mimpara in Europe and had sales of $808 million last year. However the latter is an oral treatment, while KAI-4169 is administered intravenously.

At the end of January, Amgen announced it is buying Micromet, a biotech with its R&D centre in Munich and headquarters in Rockville, USA, for $1.16 billion.