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Amgen to buy German biotech Micromet for $1.16bn

Will gain Munich R&D centre and rights to haematologic cancer antibody blinatumomab

Amgen is to acquire German biotech Micromet in a deal worth $1.16bn that will see it gain a Munich R&D centre and a variety of developmental products.

Chief among these is blinatumomab, an antibody that has shown encouraging phase I and II results in treating both acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and has potential for use in other haematologic cancers.

"Blinatumomab will serve as an important complement to our oncology pipeline and is representative of our corporate strategy, which is focused on developing and successfully commercialising therapeutics to treat patients with grievous illness," said Kevin Sharer, chairman and CEO at Amgen.

The investigational therapy is a Bispecific T cell Engager (BiTE) antibody, which is intended to work by directing the body's cell-destroying T cells to attack tumour cells.

If it can be brought to market it would be a step forward for antibody-based cancer treatments because current antibodies are unable to engage T cells, which lack the appropriate receptors for binding non-BiTE antibodies.

Amgen also said it will encorporate Micromet's Munich site into its global research plans as an 'Amgen R&D centre of excellence'.

Dr Christian Itin, president and CEO of Micromet, said the agreement would be beneficial for the company, as well as cancer patients.

He said: "Amgen's extensive resources and experience in the development and commercialisation of biologics promise to speed blinatumomab's path to market, expand its development across a broader range of B-cell malignancies and maximise the full potential of our novel BiTE technology."

The acquisition is Amgen's second major cancer-related deal in recent weeks following a collaboration with generics manufacturer Watson to jointly develop and commercialise several cancer biosimilars.

Micromet also currently has several partnerships with pharma companies, including separate deals with Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim, both involving the BiTE antibody technology in developing cancer treatments.

27th January 2012

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