BMS continues biopharma spending spree with Cormorant deal

6 Jul 2016

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has acquired Cormorant Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on drugs to treat cancer sufferers, in what is its second major move in the sector this year.

The deal to buy Cormorant will cost BMS between $500-$520m, with the former’s HuMax-IL8 antibody program, and its lead candidate HuMax-IL8, the prize catches.

HuMax-IL8 targets IL-8, a protein expressed by many solid tumours within the tumour microenvironment that suppresses the immune system and increases the ability of tumours to metastasize.

Future Human

By targeting IL-8, HuMax-IL8 offers the potential to enhance immune response and increase the efficacy of existing cancer medicines through combination therapy.

BMS Cormorant

“We believe combination therapy will be foundational to delivering the potential for long-term survival for patients,” said Francis Cuss, chief scientific officer at BMS.

“The opportunity to develop the HuMax-IL8 antibody program together with our broad immuno-oncology pipeline enables us to accelerate the next wave of potentially transformational immunotherapies.”

Based in Stockholm, Cormorant is a biotech company working on new candidates for cancer and rare disease. It had purchased the rights to HumAx-IL8 from Genmab in 2012.

“BMS is the ideal company to maximise the potential of both Cormorant and the HuMax-IL8 program, and bring hope to more patients,” said Maarten de Château, CEO of Cormorant.

“BMS’ rich pipeline of clinical candidates and approved products provides even more opportunity for potential therapeutic synergy when coupled with HuMax-IL8.”

In March, BMS bought Padlock Therapeutics for a figure rising to $600m, seeking to bolster its autoimmune treatment portfolio.

Pharma image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic