AstraZeneca Looks to Strengthen Cancer Pipeline with Amplimmune Buy

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Published August 26, 2013

| FOXBusiness

AstraZeneca’s global biologics arm announced Monday it has entered deal to acquire Maryland-based cancer immunology company Amplimmune.

Amplimune, which specializes in cancer drug development, will help broaden the oncology pipeline for AstraZeneca’s MedImmune. Under the agreement, MedImmune will acquire all of Amplimune’s shares for an initial consideration of $225 million, with deferred consideration of up to $275 million.

“Both companies are passionate about developing new cancer therapies for patients and are excited about the potential of immunotherapies.  We are pleased to be joining MedImmune, who will work to further advance the pioneering work we’ve been conducting in this area,” Michael Richman, Amplimmune's president and CEO said in a press release.  “The synergy achieved by combining our pipelines provides an important path towards developing novel immunotherapy products.”

MedImmune hopes to take advantage of several Amplimmune drugs still early in the development process. MedImmune’s Executive Vice President Bahija Jallal explained the drugs focus on creating new ways of attacking deadly cancers. One in particular helps the immune system find cancer tumors and kill them.

“Tumors develop a way to evade the immune system, which is trained to see what’s foreign to us and eliminate it,” Jallal said in comments to FOX Business. “The tumors develop a system to escape the immune system, but Amplimmune’s approach is to find what we call a checkpoint – or molecules – to restore the immune system and that will allow tumors not to escape, and allow the immune system to recognize the tumor and kill it.”

Jallal said at this point, MedImmune plans to leave Amplimmune’s structure intact in an effort to maintain focus on drug research and development. That includes likely retaining Amplimune’s staff levels, she said.

“Buying Amplimmune was more than just buying a molecule. The value is in their talent, and their scientific talent for sure,” she said.

The acquisition is expected to be finalized at the end of the third quarter after receiving regulatory approvals.

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