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Bristol-Myers Squibb acquires Cormorant for $520m

Deal with Swedish firm will boost BMS' oncology pipeline

BMSBristol-Myers Squibb has bought specialist pharma firm Cormorant Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth up to $520m as part of its efforts to boost its oncology pipeline.

The acquisition of the privately-owned Swedish firm gives BMS complete access to the HuMax-IL8 antibody programme which includes Cormorant's lead candidate, HuMax-IL8 - a Phase I/II fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the protein interleukin-8 (IL-8).

IL-8 is expressed by many solid tumours and is thought to be a key driver for malignant ones: it suppresses the immune system and increases the ability of tumours to spread.

The attraction of the deal for BMS is that HuMax-IL8 represents a potentially complementary immuno-oncology mechanism of action to T-cell directed antibodies and co-stimulatory molecules.

The company says that targeting IL-8 offers the potential to enhance immune response and increase the efficacy of existing cancer medicines through combination therapy. 

Francis Cuss, BMS chief scientific officer, said: “We believe combination therapy will be foundational to delivering the potential for long-term survival for patients, and the opportunity to develop the HuMax-IL8 antibody programme together with our broad immuno-oncology pipeline enables us to accelerate the next wave of potentially transformational immunotherapies.”

The US firm has acquired all Cormorant's outstanding capital stock in the deal, which includes upfront and near-term milestone payments of up to $95m and the possibility of more payments adding an extra US $425m to the bill if BMS achieves certain development and regulatory milestones.

Based at the Karolinska Institute Science Park in Stockholm, Cormorant focuses on cancer and rare diseases, and itself bought the rights to HuMax-IL8 by Genmab in 2012 under an exclusive license agreement.

Maarten de Château, chief executive officer and co-founder of Cormorant, said BMS is “the ideal company” to maximise the potential of both Cormorant and the HuMax-IL8 programme itself. The deal was approved by the boards of both companies and by Cormorant's shareholders.

BMS also recently signed a new research deal to extend the reach of its immuno-oncology drug Opdivo (nivolumab). That project will look at the safety and efficacy of enadenotucirev - which is made by PsiOxus Therapeutics in Oxford, UK - in combination with Opdivo for the treatment of a range of tumours in late-stage cancer patients.

Article by
Adam Hill

6th July 2016

From: Sales

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