Bristol-Myers Squibb buys Cormorant for up to $520 million, gains experimental HuMax-IL8 monoclonal antibody

Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired all the outstanding capital stock of Cormorant Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth up to $520 million, giving it full rights to the latter's HuMax-IL8 antibody programme, the companies announced Tuesday. The drugmakers noted that the Phase I/II monoclonal antibody targeting interleukin-8 (IL-8) represents a "potentially complementary immuno-oncology mechanism of action to T-cell-directed antibodies and co-stimulatory molecules."

Under the agreed terms, Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay up to $95 million in upfront and unspecified near-term milestone payments to Cormorant. The Sweden-based company is also eligible to receive additional amounts totalling up to $425 million if Bristol-Myers Squibb achieves certain development and regulatory milestones. The transaction was approved by both companies' boards and by Cormorant's stockholders.

The drugmakers indicated that by targeting IL-8, HuMax-IL8 may be able to "enhance immune response and increase the efficacy of existing cancer medicines through combination therapy," which Bristol-Myers Squibb's chief scientific officer Francis Cuss said "will be foundational to delivering the potential for long-term survival for patients." He added that "the opportunity to develop the HuMax-IL8 antibody programme together with our broad immuno-oncology pipeline enables us to accelerate the next wave of potentially transformational immunotherapies."

Cormorant gained the rights to HuMax-IL8 from Genmab in 2012 under an exclusive license agreement.

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