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, Flexusâ€™ lead preclinical small-molecule IDO1 inhibitor targeted for IND filing in the second half of 2015. In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire Flexusâ€™ 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 Flexusâ€™ phase 1 FLT3 and CDK4/6 inhibitor, its earlier stage small-molecule Treg cancer immunotherapy programs, and its current personnel and facilities.
â€śBristol-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,â€ť said Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. â€śWith 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.â€ť
â€śBristol-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,â€ť said Terry Rosen, PhD, chief executive officer of Flexus Biosciences. â€śWith 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.â€ť
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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