Bristol-Myers will work on gene therapies with Dutch biotech uniQure; price could top $2.2B

Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb said Monday it will work with Dutch biotechnology company uniQure to develop gene therapies for cardiovascular diseases.

The companies will focus first on a treatment for congestive heart failure. They said uniQure could get more than $2.2 billion from the deal in total, and Bristol-Myers Squibb will also take a minority stake in the company.

Shares of uniQure NV climbed $10.58, or 46.3 percent, to $33.44 in midday trading. The stock went public in early 2014 and reached an all-time high of $35.50 Monday.

The companies said uniQure is studying a drug that restores the heart's ability to synthesize a protein called S100A1. Bristol-Myers Squibb could pay uniQure $254 million if that drug is successfully developed and approved for sale, and it could pay up to $217 million for each additional drug. UniQure will also get payments based on sales targets and royalties on any approved drugs. The companies will choose a total of 10 therapeutic targets.

Bristol-Myers will take a 4.9-percent stake in uniQure for about $32 million, and it will buy another 5 percent stake by the end of the year, paying a 10-percent premium for those shares. It will also get warrants that would allow it to buy another 10 percent of the company.

UniQure's only approved drug is Glybera, a genetic treatment for a rare disease called LPLD, or familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency. European Union regulators cleared the drug in 2012, and the first patients may be treated with the drug in the next few months. The drug isn't approved in the U.S.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. shares rose 10 cents to $63.33 in midday trading.