Bristol-Myers Squibb to buy IFM Therapeutics, boosting cancer drug pipeline

Bristol-Myers Squibb announced an agreement to acquire IFM Therapeutics under a deal potentially worth up to $2.3 billion, including a payment of $300 million upon closing of the transaction. Bristol-Myers Squibb noted that IFM is developing therapies that "modulate novel targets in the innate immune system" to treat cancer, autoimmunity and inflammatory disorders. The purchase is expected to close in the third quarter.

"Targeting innate immunity pathways represents a potentially differentiated approach in immuno-oncology designed to initiate and augment immune responses that may help the body's natural defences better recognise and attack tumours," remarked Thomas Lynch, chief scientific officer at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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Under the deal, Bristol-Myers Squibb will gain full rights to IFM's preclinical STING and NLRP3 agonist programmes, which are focused on enhancing the innate immune response for treating cancer. As part of the agreement, IFM stockholders will be entitled to contingent payments of up to $1.01 billion for each of the first products from the two programmes upon the achievement of certain development, regulatory and sales milestones. Further, IFM is eligible for additional contingent milestone payments for further products resulting from these programmes.

Alongside the transaction, a new entity will be formed that will retain IFM's current personnel and facilities, as well as its remaining research programmes, including an NLRP3 antagonist programme focused on curbing immune responses that lead to inflammatory diseases and fibrosis. The companies indicated that in consideration of an additional payment at closing and future investment, Bristol-Myers Squibb will be granted certain rights against the NLRP3 antagonist programme, including a right of first refusal.

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