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Biogen Idec to acquire Stromedix in $562m deal

Drug candidate for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at centre of deal for the US biotech

Biogen Idec is to buy US biotech Stromedix in a deal that could be worth up to $562m.

Stromedix will receive an upfront cash payment of $75m and could be in line for an additional $487.5m if it reaches certain development and commercial milestones.

In return, Biogen will take control of the fibrosis and organ failure specialist and its portfolio of investigational products, including lead candidate STX-100.

The compound is currently being studied as a treatment for fibrotic diseases, the formation of excess connective tissue in an organ or tissue, and is about to enter phase II trials in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The condition is a chronic fibrosis of the supporting framework of a person's lungs for unknown reasons and no satisfactory treatments are currently available. It is fatal in almost all cases, with more than 200,000 patients currently living with the disease in the US and Europe.

STX-100 is designed to disrupt the body's TGF-beta pathway, which plays a role in the development of fibrotic tissues.

Biogen said it has so far demonstrated "significant" anti-fibrotic activity in preclinical animal model trials, as well as adequate safety and tolerability in phase I.

The rarity and severity of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis meant STX-100 was granted orphan status by the US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in 2010, providing benefits to encourage development.

“We believe STX-100 has the potential to be a best-in-class therapy and it is an excellent strategic fit with our focus on highly differentiated programs with the potential to make a real difference for patients,” said Douglas Williams, executive VP of R&D at Biogen.

The deal also sees the return of Stromedix' founder and CEO Michael Gilman to Biogen. Gilman was head of research at the company from 2000 to 2005 before leaving to set up Stromedix.

“By joining forces, we expect to accelerate the development of STX-100 and other promising early-stage drug candidates,” said Gilman. “This begins a new chapter for all of us at Stromedix, and we look forward to a bright future as part of Biogen Idec.”

Commenting on Twitter, Gilman described the deal as “the circle of life”.

15th February 2012

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