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BMS pays USD 430m for biotech firm

Bristol-Myers Squibb signs a definitive agreement to acquire the biotechnology firm Adnexus Therapeutics for USD 430m in a move to strengthen its biologics strategy

US-based pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the biotechnology firm Adnexus Therapeutics for USD 430m in a move to strengthen its biologics strategy across a number of therapeutic areas.

The newly announced acquisition plan follows a previously existing partnership, through which three of Massachusetts-based Adnexus' early-stage oncology product candidates were partnered with BMS under a deal inked in February 2007.

Adnexus is focused on developing a class of biologics it calls Adnectins, which are based on human fibronectin, an extracellular protein found in human serum. The company's most advanced drug candidate is Angiocept, an Adnectin that is in phase I development as a cancer therapy. A phase II clinical trial is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2008.

Pipeline products
Angiocept, which was not one of the drugs previously partnered with BMS, is designed to work by inhibiting angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels grow from preexisting ones. The drug was engineered using Adnexus' proprietary protein design engine called PROfusion, which the firm says can engineer trillions of protein variations simultaneously.

Phase I results suggested that Angiocept acts as an antagonist to its intended target and identified a well-tolerated and pharmacologically active dose for use in the phase II studies, the company said.

In addition to the oncology products, Adnexus also has a preclinical drug candidate for autoimmune disease, a preclinical candidate for musculo-skeletal disease, and a preclinical candidate for neurodegenerative disease, none of which were previously partnered with BMS or other firms.

Deal terms
Under the acquisition deal between the firms, Adnexus Therapeutics will become a subsidiary of BMS, with the larger company acquiring all of the biotech's stock for USD 430m in cash. Potential milestone payments tied to certain development and regulatory events could increase that total by another USD 75m in the future.

BMS CEO Jim Cornelius called biologics "one cornerstone" of his firm's strategy going forward. He noted that, along with growing its portfolio of biologic drug candidates, the company is expanding its biologics manufacturing capabilities at its existing Syracuse, New York, facility and is building a large-scale bulk biologics facility in Massachusetts."

Adnexus is a privately held Delaware corporation that was formed in 2003 by investors including Atlas Venture, Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners. In August 2007, the firm filed a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering (IPO).

The biotech firm is headed up by President and CEO John Mendlein, who was previously chairman and CEO of Affinium Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held company focused on anti-infectives. Earlier in his career, he was general counsel and chief knowledge officer at Aurora Biosciences.

27th September 2007

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