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Heart Disease Biotech Acquired in $13.1B Deal

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(A. Kotok)

5 Oct. 2020. A company developing precision medicine drugs to treat inherited heart disorders was acquired by drug maker Bristol Myers Squibb, or BMS, for $13.1 billion. MyoKardia Inc. stockholders are receiving $225.00 per share, a 61 percent premium over the stock’s closing price of $139.60 on Friday.

MyoKardia, in Brisbane, California, creates small molecule, or low molecular weight, treatments for heart diseases originating in mutations in cardiac sarcomere genes coding for the proteins myosin and actin. The company says malfunctions in those proteins can be traced to disorders where heart muscles contract excessively, or muscle relaxation is impaired, or muscles do not contract sufficiently. In all of these conditions, the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body.

MyoKardia’s lead product is mavacamten to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disorder where heart muscles become abnormally thick, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. Mavacamten is in a late-stage clinical trial for obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and a mid-stage trial for the non-obstructive form of the disease. Another MyoKardia product, danicamtiv, is in a mid-stage clinical trial for stable or systolic heart failure, where the heart muscle contraction cycle is impaired.

The company was started in 2012 by four academic researchers in heart muscle biology and cardiovascular genetics from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and University of Colorado, and received its initial financing from Third Rock Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm. In May 2015, Science & Enterprise reported on MyoKardia’s second venture funding round, raising $46 million.

Bristol Myers Squibb makes clear that mavacamten is a key factor behind the acquisition. “The acquisition of MyoKardia, says BMS CEO and board chair Giovanni Caforio in a statement, “further strengthens our portfolio, pipeline, and scientific capabilities, and is expected to add a meaningful medium- and long-term growth driver. We are further strengthening our outstanding cardiovascular franchise through the addition of mavacamten, a promising medicine with the potential to address a significant unmet medical need in patients with cardiovascular disease.”

Bristol Myers Squibb is the maker of apixaban, marketed as Eliquis, as an anticoagulant for people at risk of stroke or blood clots. MyoKardia expects to file a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for mavacamten early next year.

“MyoKardia was formed eight years ago with the aim of changing the world for people with serious cardiovascular diseases through bold and innovative science,” says MyoKardia’s CEO Tassos Gianakakos. He adds, “Bristol Myers Squibb shares our vision for transforming the treatment of cardiovascular disease.”

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