Celgene is to provide seed funding for PharmAria, a newly founded cancer and fibrotic diseases drug discovery firm established by former cofounders and scientists at Amira Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in September 2011 for a total of $425 million. Under terms of the deal Celgene will work with PharmAria to secure additional Series A venture funding (to which Celgene will also contribute), in return for an equity stake in the new firm, an option to license specific R&D programs, and an option to acquire PharmAria outright in the future.

The initial seed funding provided by Celgene will allow PharmAria to start operations, secure an initial scientific team, and start to identify clinical candidates against selected targets. “The unique deal structure with Celgene provides PharmAria with the ability to create significant value for investors, while simultaneously providing Celgene with access to additional world class research and novel clinical candidates for its pipeline,” comments John Hutchison, Ph.D., PharmAria’s president. “We are extremely excited to be working with Celgene under a new framework, which we believe will serve as a mutually beneficial model for biopharmaceutical companies to collaborate going forward.”

Dr. Hutchison was one of the cofounders of Amira in 2005. Prior to its acquisition by BMS last year, the firm had taken five preclinical candidates through Phase I trials. These included two DP2 antagonists, an LPA1 antagonist, and two FLAP inhibitors, which Amira partnered with GlaxoSmithKline at the end of Phase I. 

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