Getting fired up for fibrotics

Acquisition of Amira nets BMS fibrosis, inflammation candidates

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NEW YORK—Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) recently announcedthat it has signed a definitive agreement with Amira Pharmaceuticals Inc. bywhich BMS will acquire all of Amira's issued and outstanding shares of capitalstock and stock equivalents. Amira will be acquired in an all-cash transactionfor $325 million upfront, with the potential for another $150 million inmilestone payments. The closing of the acquisition is subject to customaryconditions and regulatory approvals.
 
 
The acquisition of Amira, a small-molecule pharmaceuticalcompany based in San Diego, expands BMS' reach into the field of fibroticdiseases and complements several of its existing therapeutic areas, such asvirology, immunoscience, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, the companysays. Amira's focus, according to its website, is on "the discovery anddevelopment of proprietary small-molecule drugs for inflammation andrespiratory diseases related to bioactive lipid pathways."
 
"As part of the continued execution of our focused BioPharmastrategy, Bristol-Myers Squibb has identified fibrotic diseases as an area ofhigh unmet medical need that complements our research efforts in several of ourtherapeutic areas," Elliott Sigal, executive vice president, chief scientificofficer and president of research and development at BMS, said in a pressrelease.
 
Acquiring Amira gives BMS a pipeline that consists of six clinicaland preclinical candidates indicated for respiratory conditions, ocular/dermal,pain/CVD and other lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) targets. The lead asset, AM152,is an orally available LPA1 receptor antagonist. AM152 has finished Phase Iclinical studies and is preparing for Phase IIa proof-of-confidence studies asa treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and systemic sclerosis.
 
The company's preclinical autotaxin program, which haspotential as a treatment for neuropathic pain and cancer metastases, will beincluded in the acquisition. BMS says it intends to retain the scientistsworking on the fibrosis and autotaxin programs, and Amira will continue to belocated in San Diego. No additional information was given regarding the rest ofAmira's employees.
 
 
Amira declined to participate in an interview, though in apress release regarding the acquisition, Bob Baltera, CEO of Amira, said thecompany is "pleased to have Bristol-Myers Squibb acquire AmiraPharmaceuticals."
 
 
"Our LPA and autotaxin programs are world-leading and willbe in excellent hands," said Baltera. "It has been a pleasure to work withBristol-Myers Squibb throughout this highly competitive process."
 
 
Though no details were given as to whether there arespecific candidates that will be targeted first, BMS says that it intends tofocus initial development on the areas of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis andsystemic sclerosis. BMS notes that the potential of Amira's fibrotics programadvances its capabilities "in a way that could position it as a leader in thearea, with a small-molecule candidate that has preclinical proof of concept inseveral indications of high unmet need, including idiopathic pulmonaryfibrosis, systemic sclerosis, liver fibrosis and kidney fibrosis."
 
 
"Amira Pharmaceuticals' scientists have been leaders in theresearch and development of lysophosphatidic acid receptor antagonists forfibrosis," Jeremy Levin, senior vice president of strategy, alliances andtransactions at BMS, said in a press release. "We compliment the professionalapproach of the investors and Amira Pharmaceuticals' leadership and scientificteam who, since 2005, have built a highly innovative company. We will now buildon that history and commitment to innovation to discover and develop novelmedicines in this important disease area."


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