MedImmune agrees $500m cancer acquisition

MedImmune’s Cambridge UK medical technology team will benefit from the company’s decision to buy a US specialist in cancer immunology in a deal that could stack up to $500 million (£321m).

MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Amplimmune, a privately-held, Maryland-based biologics company focused on developing novel therapeutics in cancer immunology.

The acquisition could have major spin-off research benefits for Cambridge as MedImmune – currently based at Granta Park – moves its team to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to be alongside parent company AstraZeneca. The move – to be completed by 2016 – will see AZ’s Corporate HQ and research capability switch to Cambridge along with 2,000 jobs.

The acquisition will bolster MedImmune’s oncology pipeline by obtaining multiple early-stage assets for its immune-mediated cancer therapy (IMT-C) portfolio, including AMP-514, an anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody (mAb).

AMP-514 is currently in late-stage pre-clinical development with the aim of an investigational new drug (IND) filing before the end of 2013. Other Amplimmune assets include multiple preclinical molecules targeting the B7 pathways.

MedImmune’s oncology research is focused on IMT-C, a promising therapeutic approach that may lead to durable and prolonged response rates across a range of cancer types. IMT-Cs are being designed to empower the immune system to counteract the tactics employed by cancer cells to avoid detection and attack the body.

MedImmune will pay an initial consideration of $225m and deferred consideration of up to $275m based on predetermined development milestones being hit.

Dr Bahija Jallal, executive vice-president, MedImmune said: “MedImmune’s focus on harnessing the power of the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer will be complemented by Amplimmune’s innovative work in this area. It will allow us to strengthen our arsenal of potential cancer therapies.”

MedImmune, with its clinical stage programmes – tremelimumab, anti-OX40 mAb and MEDI-4736 (anti-PD-L1 mAb) – and a robust pre-clinical pipeline, is building one of the most comprehensive programmes in IMT-C.

The acquisition of the Amplimmune technology and pipeline significantly strengthens the AstraZeneca and MedImmune portfolio, enabling the pursuit of the most effective data-driven combinations of IMT-C molecules as well as combinations with highly targeted small molecules.

Because of the complexity of cancer biology, combination therapies have the potential to be one of the most effective ways of treating this disease.

Michael Richman, Amplimmune’s president and CEO said: “Both companies are passionate about developing new cancer therapies for patients and are excited about the potential of immunotherapies.

“We are pleased to be joining MedImmune, who will work to further advance the pioneering work we’ve been conducting in this area. The synergy achieved by combining our pipelines provides an important path towards developing novel immunotherapy products.”

The proposed transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013.

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