Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has been granted an exclusive right to acquire Promedior and gain worldwide rights to its Phase II lead compound PRM-151 for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and myelofibrosis (MF). The deal could generate up to $1.25 billion for Promedior.

PRM-151 is a recombinant form of human pentraxin-2 protein that has been granted Fast Track designation in the U.S. and Orphan designation in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of MF. The drug candidate has also received Orphan designations in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of IPF.

“PRM-151 will complement our growing early-stage fibrosis portfolio, and we are excited by its potential to address multiple fibrotic diseases,” Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, BMS’ evp and CSO, said in a statement.

Fibrotic diseases is one of BMS’ eight disease areas of focus, with the pharma giant focused on building its offerings in the segment since acquiring Amira Pharmaceuticals in 2011.

BMS agreed to pay Promedior up to $1.25 billion that includes $150 million cash upfront for both the right to acquire Promedior and as payment for services in support of the MF and IPF Phase II clinical trials.

The companies said they have also agreed on a development plan to be carried out by Promedior. The Phase II trials in MF and IPF are expected to be initiated in the coming weeks. BMS can exercise its right to acquire Promedior upon completion of either of these trials.

“With the strong strategic fit between our companies, we intend to continue to move PRM-151 forward rapidly as a new treatment option to address the unmet needs of patients with myelofibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and other fibrotic diseases,” added Suzanne L. Bruhn, Ph.D., Promedior’s president and CEO.

The deal with Promedior marks the second announcement in as many months of BMS activity designed to boost its fibrotic disease presence. In July, BMS said it will partner with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on translational research into fibrotic diseases, in a collaboration whose value was not disclosed.

In announcing the Promedior agreement, BMS highlighted two Phase II fibrosis candidates: BMS-986020, a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist for IPF, and a CCR2/5 dual antagonist in Phase II development for diabetic kidney disease. Other areas of focus include nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), systemic sclerosis, and chronic kidney disease.

BMS has also aimed to further advance its fibrosis development program by signing an exclusive option last year to acquire Galecto Biotech, which has an inhaled inhibitor of galectin-3 in Phase I development to treat IPF, and by launching a research collaboration and license agreement with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), in addition to the translational research collaboration with MUSC.

According to its website, BMS’ fibrotic disease pipeline includes two Phase I small molecule compounds, another CCR2 / 5 antagonist and a Galectin-3 inhibitor.

BMS’ other seven disease areas of focus along with cardiovascular, genetically-defined diseases, immune-oncology, immunoscience, metabolics, oncology, and virology.

Privately held Promedior has been financed by Shire and  global healthcare investors that include Easton Capital Investment Group, Fibrotec Ventures, Forbion Capital Partners, HealthCare Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, Polaris Partners, and BioMed Ventures.

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