Lindsay Rosenwald is a medical doctor and finance expert who specializes in investing in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical research. Lindsay Rosenwald founded Cougar Biotechnology to continue research and development on abiraterone acetate, a drug that combats hormone-resistant prostate cancer. Johnson & Johnson acquired the company in 2009.
Development on abiraterone acetate first began in the 1990s, recalls Lindsay Rosenwald. The drug was reviewed by a number of medical investment firms who declined participation. Lab results eventually ended up on the desk of Lindsay Rosenwald, and Cougar Biotechnology then purchased production rights for approximately $500,000.
According to Lindsay Rosenwald, abiraterone acetate enjoyed unparalleled success in its first clinical trials in 2004. The drug proved to induce a decline in prostate-specific antigen levels in patients who had received chemotherapy but were refractory to it. Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald further explains that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug after an extremely successful phase 3 clinical study. During the study, the results in the control group were so profound that the trial was halted and placebo participants were given the drug, reports Lindsay Rosenwald.
Abiraterone is an androgen biosynthesis inhibitor (ABI) that directly affects the androgen biosynthesis pathway by inhibiting CYP17 (17α-hydroxylase/C17, 20-lyase). Consequently, androgen biosynthesis is inhibited at 3 sources of testosterone production: the testes, adrenal glands, and prostate tumor tissue. Androgen biosynthesis inhibition results in decreased levels of serum testosterone and other androgens. Androgen-deprivation therapies—such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs or orchiectomy—decrease androgen production in the testes, but do not affect androgen production by the adrenal glands or in the tumor.
As Lindsay Rosenwald reports, abiraterone was approved under the brand name Zytiga and released in April 2011. Zytiga’s approval came after clinical studies of nearly 1,200 late-stage prostate cancer patients showed the overall survival rate was significantly extended after taking the drug, says Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald.
Lindsay Rosenwald reports that in July 2009, Johnson & Johnson completed its acquisition of Cougar Biotechnology. The acquisition took place after Johnson & Johnson purchased approximately 20,150,000 shares of Cougar Biotechnology stock through a short-form merger.
Johnson & Johnson spent approximately $1 billion to procure Cougar Biotechnology. At the time, Lindsay Rosenwald reports that Cougar Biotechnology was in the process of conducting Phase III clinical trials for abiraterone acetate.
Today, Cougar Biotechnology operates as a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson and works alongside Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development. Lindsay Rosenwald reports that Ortho Biotech is also a Johnson & Johnson company and operates under the umbrella of Centocor Research & Development.
The future of abiraterone
Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald reports that abiraterone acetate may also be indicated to treat advanced breast cancer. Studies performed at the University of London’s Institute of Cancer Research have shown promising results. According to the Institute of Cancer Research website, abiraterone acetate may be most useful for women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, says Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald.
Lindsay Rosenwald reports that Zytiga is slated to become a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical in the coming years and is proud to have been a pioneer of its success. Thousands of lives have been prolonged thanks to the drug, and Lindsay Rosenwald believes that many more will be prolonged or saved in the future.
Cougar Biotechnology was founded to focus on finding medical assets with considerable intrinsic value, says Lindsay Rosenwald. The company achieved its goal by offering a notable new alternative in advanced oncological medication.