Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is buying Amira Pharmaceuticals for $325 million up front and potentially another $150 million in milestones for the firm’s clinical-stage fibrosis program. Amira is focused on the discovery and early development of small molecule drugs targeting inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.
Lead compound AM152 is an orally available antagonist targeting the lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor. It is poised to start in Phase IIa proof-of-concept trials as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).
BMS says it plans to retain Amira’s scientific staff, who will remain at the firm’s San Diego facility. “As part of the continued execution of our focused biopharma strategy, BMS has identified fibrotic diseases as an area of high unmet medical need that complements our research efforts in several of our therapeutic areas,” remarks Elliott Sigal, evp, CSO, and president of R&D.
Amira’s clinical pipeline includes a DP2r (prostaglandin D2 receptor) antagonist, AM211/461, which has also completed Phase I studies for the potential treatment of asthma and COPD. Lead asthma candidate, AM103/803, is a 5-lipoxygenase activating protein (FLAP) inhibitor that is being developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) under an exclusive, worldwide FLAP inhibitor agreement signed in February 2008.
BMS’ acquisition of Amira will also give the firm the latter’s preclinical-stage autotaxin program, which is being investigated for the potential treatment of neuropathic pain and cancer metastases. Buying Amira is part of BMS ‘string of pearls’ strategy that aims to expand its pipeline through the acquisition of promising candidates or whole companies.
Earlier this month BMS sealed another string of pearls deal, when it agreed to pay Innate Pharma $35 million up front and potentially another $430 million in milestones for worldwide rights to develop the latter’s early clinical-stage killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) -targeting antibody IPH2102 and related compounds for the potential treatment of cancer.
Since 2007 BMS has completed 13 pearl transactions encompassing disease areas like cancer, cardiovascular disease, immunology, neuroscience, rheumatoid arthritis, and virology. Its largest pearl transaction, in August 2009, was the acquisition of Medarex for $2.3 billion.