NEW YORK — Bristol Myers Squibb and Forbius, a privately held, clinical-stage protein engineering company that designs and develops biotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer and fibrotic diseases, announced Monday that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Bristol Myers Squibb will acquire Forbius. Forbius has developed a portfolio of highly selective and potent inhibitors of TGF-beta 1 & 3, which are key mediators of immunosuppression and fibrosis. The transaction includes an upfront payment and future success-based milestone payments. Prior to closing, Forbius’ non-TGF-beta assets will be transferred to a newly formed private company, which will be retained by Forbius’ existing shareholders.
The companies anticipate completing the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Under this transaction, Bristol Myers Squibb would acquire Forbius’s TGF-beta program, including the program’s lead investigational asset, AVID200. TGF-beta is a key cytokine that regulates various cell processes, including regulation of the immune system. Selective inhibition of TGF-beta 1 & 3 may enhance anti-tumor efficacy by acting synergistically with immunotherapy. Bristol Myers Squibb intends to initially focus research and development efforts of AVID200 in oncology and may consider advancing the asset in other disease areas, such as fibrosis.
“With this acquisition, we extend our leading position in oncology by including new pathways that complement our expansive oncology pipeline with the potential to serve more patients with cancer, including those who may not respond to immunotherapy,” said Rupert Vessey, executive vice president and president, research & early development, Bristol Myers Squibb. “As a science driven company, this transaction shows our continued commitment to source innovation internally and externally to develop new treatments for patients with significant unmet medical needs.”
“Our portfolio of highly selective TGF-beta inhibitors has shown potential across a broad range of therapeutic areas,” said Ilia Tikhomirov, resident and CEO of Forbius. “We are proud that Bristol Myers Squibb recognizes this potential given their global leadership in oncology and unique position to translate innovative science into meaningful treatments for patients with cancer across the globe.”
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP served as legal advisors to Bristol Myers Squibb. BofA Securities acted as financial advisor to Forbius and Cooley LLP and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP served as legal advisors.