cell immuno antibodyBristol-Myers Squibb Company and Cormorant Pharmaceuticals have announced that Bristol-Myers Squibb has acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Cormorant, a private, Stockholm, Sweden-based pharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapies for cancer and rare diseases.

The acquisition gives Bristol-Myers Squibb full rights to Cormorant’s HuMax-IL8 antibody programme and the lead candidate HuMax-IL8, a Phase I/II monoclonal antibody targeted against interleukin-8 (IL-8) that represents a potentially complementary immuno-oncology mechanism of action to T-cell directed antibodies and co-stimulatory molecules.

IL-8 is a protein expressed by many solid tumours within the tumour microenvironment that suppresses the immune system and increases the ability of tumours to metastasize. By targeting IL-8, HuMax-IL8 offers the potential to enhance immune response and increase the efficacy of existing cancer medicines through combination therapy. The rights to HuMax-IL8 were acquired by Cormorant from Genmab A/S in 2012 under an exclusive license agreement.

“We believe combination therapy will be foundational to delivering the potential for long-term survival for patients, and the opportunity to develop the HuMax-IL8 antibody programme, together with our broad immune-oncology pipeline, enables us to accelerate the next wave of potentially transformational immunotherapies,” said Francis Cuss, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb is the ideal company to maximize the potential of both Cormorant and the HuMax-IL8 programme, and bring hope to more patients,” said Maarten de Château, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Cormorant Pharmaceuticals. “Bristol-Myers Squibb is the leader in the immuno-oncology field, with deep clinical development and regulatory expertise, and an established commercial infrastructure to deliver important new therapies to patients quickly. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s rich pipeline of clinical candidates and approved products provides even more opportunity for potential therapeutic synergy when coupled with HuMax-IL8.”

The transaction includes upfront and near term contingent milestone payments of up to $95 million and additional contingent consideration of up to $425 million upon the achievement by Bristol-Myers Squibb of certain development and regulatory milestones. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and by the stockholders of Cormorant.