AstraZeneca is expanding its cardiovascular and metabolic disease pipeline with the acquisition of AlphaCore Pharma of the USA.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker's MedImmune unit is buying privately-held AlphaCore an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based biotechnology group, primarily because of ACP-501, a recombinant human lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) enzyme. AstraZeneca notes that LCAT is a key component in the reverse cholesterol transport system, which is thought to play a major role in driving the removal of cholesterol from the body and may be critical in the management of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. The LCAT enzyme could also play a role in a rare, hereditary disorder called familial LCAT deficiency.

Last year, results from a Phase I clinical trial of ACP-501 met the primary safety and tolerability endpoints and no serious adverse events were reported. ACP-501 also met the study’s secondary endpoints by rapidly and substantially elevating HDL cholesterol.

Bahija Jallal, head of Medimmune, noted that "cardiovascular disease is projected to remain the single leading cause of death worldwide over the next decade and beyond [and] through novel approaches like LCAT, we hope to shift the treatment paradigms in this area".

She added that "as the science in this area continues to evolve, we are committed to exploring unique pathways that could lead to new combination or standalone therapies for patients living with chronic and acute cardiovascular diseases". Financial details of the AlphaCore buy have not been disclosed.