March 2015, Vol. 2, No. 2
Bristol-Myers Squibb to Expand Its Immuno-Oncology Pipeline with Agreement to Acquire Flexus Biosciences, Inc
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Flexus Biosciences, Inc announced today the companies have signed a definitive agreement under which Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of Flexus, a privately held biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel anticancer therapeutics. The transaction has a potential total consideration of $1.25 billion, including $800 million up front and development milestones that, upon achievement, could total up to $450 million. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and by the stockholders of Flexus.
The acquisition will give Bristol-Myers Squibb full rights to F001287, Flexus’ lead preclinical small-molecule IDO1 inhibitor targeted for IND filing in the second half of 2015. In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire Flexus’ IDO/TDO discovery program, which includes its IDO-selective, IDO/TDO dual and TDO-selective compound libraries. A newly formed entity established by the current shareholders of Flexus will retain, from and after the closing, all non-IDO/TDO assets of Flexus, including those related to Flexus’ phase 1 FLT3 and CDK4/6 inhibitor, its earlier stage small-molecule Treg cancer immunotherapy programs, and its current personnel and facilities.
“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,” said Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “With the addition of a potentially best-in-class IDO1 inhibitor and the broad IDO/TDO programs, Bristol-Myers Squibb will accelerate its ability to explore numerous immunotherapeutic approaches across tumor types, including combinations with our biologic checkpoint and costimulatory agents that target different and complementary pathways.”
“Bristol-Myers Squibb is a recognized leader in the cancer immunotherapy field, and we are delighted with the opportunity to have their organization advance the development of our potentially best-in-class IDO/TDO inhibitors and to bring more innovative cancer immunotherapies to patients,” said Terry Rosen, PhD, chief executive officer of Flexus Biosciences. “With the consummation of this acquisition, we will continue to advance our oncology and immuno-oncology pipeline of Agents for Reversal of Tumor Immunosuppression (ARTIS) in the newly created spin-off, with the strong support of our committed group of investors.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Flexus anticipate the transaction will close during the first quarter of 2015. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
Citi acted as exclusive advisor to Flexus on the transaction and Gunderson Dettmer acted as legal counsel. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal advisor to Bristol-Myers Squibb in connection with the transaction.
IDO and TDO are enzymes expressed by many tumor cells and cells in the surrounding microenvironment that suppress T-cell function by producing a potent immunosuppressive factor, kynurenine, thus inhibiting the immune system from identifying and destroying certain types of tumors. IDO/TDO inhibitors reduce kynurenine production, enabling the immune system to attack tumors more effectively. Given the immunomodulatory effects of IDO/TDO inhibitors, strong scientific rationale supports exploring combination regimens with immunotherapies where synergistic activity may enhance long-term survival benefits for patients.
Bristol-Myers Squibb press release, February 23, 2015.
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