LONDON—AstraZeneca has announced that MedImmune, its global biologics research and development arm, has signed an agreement for the acquisition of privately held Definiens, a data analysis firm with corporate headquarters in München, Germany and American headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. Per the terms of the agreement, MedImmune will acquire 100 percent of Definiens' shares for an initial consideration of $150 million and will also make additional, predetermined milestone payments. Definiens will continue operating its business with third-party customers. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
“MedImmune has a comprehensive program in immuno-oncology and the identification of patients who are most likely to respond to particular therapies is critical to our ability to successfully develop new medicines,” Dr. Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune, commented in a press release. “Definiens’ technology will complement our immuno-oncology approach and allow us to accelerate further our clinical programs through its highly precise predictive and prognostic biomarker testing. We look forward to working with Definiens’ scientists to give patients the best chance of receiving the targeted medicines suited for their particular needs.”
“Definiens’ Tissue Phenomics approach marks a significant step toward closing the gap between genomics and patient outcomes,” added Thomas Heydler, CEO of Definiens, in a statement. “We look forward to joining the MedImmune team as Tissue Phenomics is of particular importance for personalized medicine in immuno-oncology. Definiens' unique ability to extract information from tissue images enables us to find novel markers for patient stratification by correlating tissue information with clinical outcomes. Together, MedImmune and Definiens can bring tailored treatments to patients faster.”
Among Definiens' portfolio is its Tissue Phenomics, an imaging and data-analysis technology that can dramatically improve the identification of biomarkers in tumor tissue. Definiens' Tissue Phenomics is based on its proprietary Cognition Network Technology, which was developed by Prof. Gerd Binnig, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Physics, and helps mine information from cancer tissue samples by measuring the identity, locations and relationships between the different components of the tumor microenvironment.
"Definiens brings a distinctive technology that will have application across the organization as well as supporting our immuno-oncology efforts. Harnessing this groundbreaking technology will reinforce our approach to developing companion diagnostics that help us in selecting the patients who would benefit the most from therapies across our small-molecule and biologics portfolios,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of Innovative Medicines and Early Development for AstraZeneca.
In June of this year, Definiens closed a round of financing for € 15 Million, led by Wellington Partners and co-led by Gilde Healthcare. Those organizations were joined in the financing by existing investors Cipio Partners and TVM Capital. As part of the financing, Dr. Rainer Strohmenger, general partner and managing director for Wellington, joined Definiens' board of directors.
Definiens noted, when it announced the financing round, that it planned to grow its digital pathology image analysis business and expand into digital tissue diagnostics, with significant investments to be made in line with its Tissue Phenomics strategy.