GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Europe’s biggest drugmaker, agreed to buy Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. for about $720 million, adding an experimental treatment derived from red wine that’s thought to slow the effects of aging.
Glaxo will pay $22.50 a share in cash for Sirtris, the London-based drugmaker said in an e-mailed statement. The offer is 84 percent more than Sirtris’ closing price yesterday of $12.23.
Sirtris’ most advanced compound is a formulation of resveratrol, a substance found in red wine and plants. Glaxo will get a foothold in a new area of research that may lead to treatments for diabetes, muscle wasting and neurodegeneration, the company said. “This helps us accelerate our vision,” Sirtris Chief Executive Officer Christoph Westphal said in an interview. “We want to get these drugs to market as soon as possible, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it as fast alone.”
The lead drug candidate, SRT501, could come to market as soon as five to seven years from now, Westphal said. He will be staying after the acquisition to continue working with the group.
SRT501 mimics resveratrol, which has been linked to longevity, Sirtris scientists said. The Sirtris molecule is 1,000 times more potent than resveratrol, and could lead to solutions for diseases of aging including cancer and diabetes, according to an article published in the journal Nature.
The acquisition of a small company at a large premium (the offer was more than 80% higher than Sirtris’ market cap) by a pharmaceutical giant is one of the first demonstrations that the drug industry is taking seriously the idea that there’s money to be made in treating aging per se rather than all of the associated conditions separately.
This could also provide a boost to other longevity research companies.