Bristol-Myers Squibb buys rare disease biotech Cormorant Pharmaceuticals

The acquisition gives Bristol-Myers Squibb full rights to Cormorant’s HuMax-IL8 antibody programme

Bristol-Myers Squibb is to buy Cormorant Pharmaceuticals in a deal which could be worth up to $520m.

Under the deal, Bristol-Myers Squibb has acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Cormorant, a privately owned biotech based in Stockholm, Sweden, which is developing new therapies for cancer and rare diseases.

The transaction includes upfront and near term milestone payments of up to $95m and an additional consideration of up to $425m upon the achievement by Bristol-Myers Squibb of certain development and regulatory milestones.

The acquisition gives Bristol-Myers Squibb full rights to Cormorant’s HuMax-IL8 antibody programme and lead candidate HuMax-IL8, a Phase I/II monoclonal antibody targeted against interleukin-8 (IL-8) that represents a potentially complementary immuno-oncology mechanism of action to T-cell directed antibodies and co-stimulatory molecules.

IL-8 is a protein expressed by many solid tumours within the tumour microenvironment that suppresses the immune system and increases the ability of tumours to metastasize. By targeting IL-8, HuMax-IL8 offers the potential to enhance immune response and increase the efficacy of existing cancer medicines through combination therapy. The rights to HuMax-IL8 were acquired by Cormorant from Genmab in 2012 under an exclusive licensing agreement.

We believe combination therapy will be foundational to delivering the potential for long-term survival for patients

'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,' said Francis Cuss, EVP and Chief Scientific Officer at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

'Bristol-Myers Squibb is the ideal company to maximise the potential of both Cormorant and the HuMax-IL8 programme, and bring hope to more patients,' said Maarten de Château, Chief Executive Officer at Cormorant Pharmaceuticals.

'Bristol-Myers Squibb is the leader in the immuno-oncology field, with deep clinical development and regulatory expertise, and an established commercial infrastructure to deliver important new therapies to patients quickly.

'Bristol-Myers Squibb’s rich pipeline of clinical candidates and approved products provides even more opportunity for potential therapeutic synergy when coupled with HuMax-IL8.'

The deal has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and by the stockholders of Cormorant.

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