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Imara offloads sickle cell drug to Cardurion

Imara will be selling its sickle cell disease candidate and all other assets related to its PDE9 program to startup Cardurion Pharmaceuticals, as the struggling Boston biotech deals with a major trial failure.

Imara will divest tovinontrine (IMR-687), a highly selective and potent small molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9) that the company was studying in both sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.

Back in April, Imara posted interim analyses of its Ardent phase 2b trial of tovinontrine in sickle cell disease and the Forte phase 2b trial in beta-thalassemia, concluding that no meaningful benefit was observed in the tovinontrine group compared to the placebo. Both studies, as well as the development of tovinontrine, were discontinued. The company has to reduce its workforce in response to trial failures.

Now, Cardurion, a cardiovascular biotech startup backed by Takeda, will pick up the assets for an upfront payment of $34.75 million and $60 million in milestone payments — in addition to the $250,000 previously paid by Cardurion.