Bristol-Myers Squibb Acquires Cancer Specialist, Flexus, for $800mBristol-Myers Squibb have announced that they will be acquiring Flexus Biosciences in an agreement worth up to $1.25 billion.

Flexus are a biotechnology company which specialises in the discovery, development, and commercialisation of small-molecule cancer immunotherapies targeting regulatory T cells.

The acquisition will involve an $800 million upfront payment, giving Bristol-Myers Squibb full rights to Flexus’ IDO/TDO discovery programmes, including F001287, a preclinical “potentially best-in-class IDO1 inhibitor.”

IDO/TDO inhibitors reduce kynurenine production enabling the immune system to attack tumours more effectively and Bristol-Myers Squibb noted that “strong scientific rationale supports exploring combination regimens with immunotherapies where synergistic activity may enhance long-term survival benefits.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s chief scientific officer, Francis Cuss, commented that the company is “committed to leading scientific advances in immuno-oncology” and noted that the acquisition will expand the company’s “innovative pipeline with an important approach to enhancing immune responses in cancer.”  Cuss added that the addition of Flexus will help the organisation “explore numerous immunotherapeutic approaches across tumor types, including combinations with our biologic checkpoint and co-stimulatory agents that target different and complementary pathways.”

Terry Rosen, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Flexus Biosciences, commented that “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.”

The companies have confirmed that they anticipate the transaction will close during the first quarter of 2015.

Rigel Pharmaceuticals Partnership

Bristol-Myers Squibb also announced a new partnership with Rigel Pharmaceuticals on Monday.  The partnership will involve Bristol-Myers Squibb using the Rigel’s TGF beta receptor kinase inhibitors to develop a new class of therapeutics aimed at “increasing the immune system’s activity against various cancers” either as monotherapy or in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.

As part of the deal, Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay Rigel $30 million upfront, followed by development and regulatory milestones that could total more than $309 million, and tiered milestones.

Carl Decicco, Head of Discovery, R&D, Bristol-Myers Squibb, commented that “working with Rigel and having access to their TGF beta receptor kinase inhibitors extends our existing portfolio of immunotherapeutic approaches to include this key mediator of immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment.”

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