Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has signed an agreement to acquire clinical-stage protein engineering company Forbius for an undisclosed sum.
Forbius is engaged in the designing and development of advanced biotherapeutics to treat cancer and fibrotic diseases.
The company has developed a portfolio of selective and potent inhibitors of TGF-beta 1 & 3, which are crucial mediators of immunosuppression and fibrosis.
Under the deal, Forbius will secure an upfront payment and future success-based milestone payments from BMS.
Forbius’ non-TGF-beta assets will be shifted to a newly formed private company before closing the deal. These assets will be retained by Forbius’ existing shareholders.
Forbius president and CEO Ilia Tikhomirov said: “We are proud that Bristol Myers Squibb recognizes this potential given their global leadership in oncology and unique position to translate innovative science into meaningful treatments for patients with cancer across the globe.”
As part of the transaction, BMS will acquire Forbius’s TGF-beta programme, which includes the lead investigational asset AVID200.
AVID200, a potent and isoform-selective TGF-beta inhibitor, can neutralise TGF-beta 1 and -beta 3 with picomolar potency.
TGF-beta is a major cytokine that enables to regulate various cell processes, including regulation of the immune system. Selective inhibition of TGF-beta 1 & 3 is believed to improve anti-tumour efficacy by acting synergistically with immunotherapy.
Initially, BMS aims to concentrate on the research and development of AVID200 in oncology and later plans to advance the research on the asset to other disease areas such as fibrosis.
Subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.
BMS research and early development president and executive president Dr Rupert Vessey said: “With this acquisition, we extend our leading position in oncology by including new pathways that complement our expansive oncology pipeline with the potential to serve more patients with cancer, including those who may not respond to immunotherapy.”
Recently, BMS has agreed to acquire the global exclusive licensing rights to interleukin-12 (IL-12), an investigational immunotherapy programme from Dragonfly Therapeutics, in a deal worth more than $475m.