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Bristol-Myers Squibb Acquires Biotech Cancer Therapies

New York Stock Exchange entrance (A. Kotok)

(A. Kotok)

24 February 2015. Bristol-Myers Squibb is purchasing biotechnology company Flexus Biosciences Inc., gaining many of that company’s cancer therapies in a deal valued as much as $1.25 billion to Flexus’s shareholders. The deal allows Flexus Biosciences shareholders to spin-off a new enterprise to develop the remaining drug programs, including treatments for cancer.

The acquisition gives Bristol-Myers Squibb Flexus’s assets developing cancer therapies that harness the immune system. Among those assets is a low molecular weight drug limiting expression of the indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase or IDO1 gene generating enzymes that repress immune system cells attacking tumors. Flexus planned to file a new drug application with FDA in the second half of 2015 to begin clinical trials for the compound, code-named F001287.

In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb acquires Flexus’s assets aimed at discovering other drugs targeting IDO enzymes, as well as tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase or TDO pathway, also generating enzymes suppressing anti-tumor immune responses.

The agreement calls for Bristol-Myers Squibb to purchase all outstanding Flexus Biosciences stock, with an initial payment of $800 million. Flexus, in San Carlos, California, is also eligible for future developmental milestone payments of up to $450 million.

The deal enables Flexus shareholders to spin-off a new company to develop the company’s remaining drug programs that aim to limit the action of enzymes expressed by FLT3, CDK4, and CDK6 genes, as well as preclinical and discovery work on regulatory T-cells. Among the remaining assets is Flexus’s cancer immunotherapy drug code-named FLX925 now recruiting participants in an early-stage clinical trial of the drug’s safety and anti-tumor response in patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

Adding the Flexus programs will bolster Bristol-Myers Squibb’s current line-up of several immunotherapy drugs for cancer, says chief scientist Francis Cuss in a company statement. “With the addition of a potentially best-in-class IDO1 inhibitor and the broad IDO/TDO programs,” says Cuss, “Bristol-Myers Squibb will accelerate its ability to explore numerous immunotherapeutic approaches across tumor types, including combinations with our biologic checkpoint and co-stimulatory agents that target different and complementary pathways.”

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