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BMS buys immunotherapy specialist Flexus in $1.2bn deal

And signs new cancer research partnership with Rigel

BMS HQ Bristol-Myers Squibb will spend big to buy out Flexus Biosciences, a privately-held biotech focused on developing new anti-cancer therapeutics. 

The deal could be worth up to $1.25bn, including an $800m upfront and development milestones that, should they be met, could total up to an extra $450m. 

The acquisition will give BMS full rights to F001287, Flexus' lead pre-clinical small molecule IDO1-inhibitor targeted for IND filing in the second half of 2015. 

In addition, BMS will acquire Flexus' IDO/TDO discovery programme that includes its IDO-selective, IDO/TDO dual and TDO-selective compound libraries. 

These new programmes are designed to be used with in cancer combinations - such as with BMS's new immunotherapy medicines Yervoy (ipilimumab) for late-stage melanoma, and its new treatment Opdivo (nivolumab), for lung and skin cancers. 

Francis Cuss, EVP and chief scientific officer at BMS, said: “Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to leading scientific advances in immuno-oncology and our acquisition of Flexus will expand our innovative pipeline with an important approach to enhancing immune responses in cancer. 

“With the addition of a potentially best-in-class IDO1 inhibitor and the broad IDO/TDO programmes, Bristol-Myers Squibb will accelerate its ability to explore numerous immunotherapeutic approaches across tumour types, including combinations with our biologic checkpoint and co-stimulatory agents that target different and complementary pathways.” 

Terry Rosen, CEO of Flexus Biosciences, added: “Bristol-Myers Squibb is a recognised leader in the cancer immunotherapy field, and we are delighted with the opportunity to have their organisation advance the development of our potentially best-in-class IDO/TDO inhibitors and to bring more innovative cancer immunotherapies to patients.

“With the consummation of this acquisition, we will continue to advance our oncology and immuno-oncology pipeline of Agents for Reversal of Tumour Immunosuppression (ARTIS) in the newly created spin-off, with the strong support of our committed group of investors.” 

The two firms say they anticipate the deal to close during the first quarter.  

Meanwhile, this announcement was made on the same day that BMS also made public a new immuno-oncology partnership with Rigel. 

The company is paying the biopharma firm $30m upfront and up to $309m in milestones to collaborate on Rigel's portfolio of small molecule TGF beta receptor kinase inhibitors, which will focus on cancer targets. 

Article by
Ben Adams

26th February 2015

From: Sales, Healthcare

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