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BMS takes option to buy fibrosis firm Galecto

The Swedish biotech has a pulmonary fibrosis candidate in early-stage testing

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) building Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed an option agreement to buy Galecto Biotech, a Swedish company with a candidate for pulmonary fibrosis therapy in early-stage clinical testing.

BMS said that the deal - which includes the option fee, an option exercise fee and subsequent clinical and regulatory milestone payments - could value Galecto at up to $444m.

Denmark-headquartered Galecto's lead candidate TD139 is an inhaled inhibitor of a galactoside binding lectin called galectin-3, which is thought to play a role in a number of pathological processes and activates the cells that cause fibrosis or scarring.

Mice deficient in galectin-3 develop much less severe fibrosis in animal models of liver, renal and pulmonary fibrosis according to the company, which believes its portfolio of galectin inhibitors could also include candidates with potential in inflammation and cancer.

The agreement includes a clause which states BMS must complete the acquisition no later than 60 days after a phase 1b trial of TD139 - due to start early next year - is completed.

"Delivering innovative medicines that halt or slow the progression of fibrotic diseases is a key part of our R&D strategy to build a sustainable pipeline," commented BMS' R&D head Francis Cuss.

The big pharma company already has one candidate for pulmonary fibrosis - a lysophosphatidic acid (LPA1) receptor antagonist called BMS-986020 - which has reached the phase II clinical trial stage.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a debilitating and life-threatening condition that, until the approval of Roche/Intermune's Esbriet (pirfenidone) in Europe in 2011, had no approved drug treatments. It takes the form of a progressive scarring of the lungs, leading to shortness of breath, cough and - in extreme cases - can lead to fatal complications such as heart failure.

Esbriet has just been approved in the US and joined on the market by Boehringer Ingelheim's Ofev (nintedanib), and there is a host of other anti-fibrotic therapies coming through the pipeline. Genoa Pharmaceuticals has an inhaled version of pirfenidone in phase III trials, while Celgene has a trial of its Thalomid (thalidomide) in IPF aimed at reducing the chronic cough associated with the disease.

Drugs for IPF in phase II trials include AstraZeneca/MedImmune's tralokinumab, Roche's lebrikizumab, Gilead Sciences' simtuzumab, Biogen Idec's STX-100 and FibroGen's FG-3019.

Article by
Phil Taylor

4th November 2014

From: Sales

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