Firm will acquire Flexus Biosciences and collaborate with Rigel

In a bid to bolster its pipeline of immuno-oncology drugs, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has agreed to buy US biotech firm Flexus Biosciences in a deal worth up to $1.25 billion (£800 million). BMS has also set up a collaboration deal with Rigel to test combinations of the two companies’ immune-system-recruiting anti-cancer drugs.

BMS will pay Flexus $800 million up front, plus up to $450 million depending on performance milestones. The deal gives the firm access to F001287 – Flexus’ preclinical indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase inhibiting drug candidate, as well as the accompanying compound development libraries. Flexus will retain its other projects and all of its existing staff and facilities in a new company.

With Rigel, BMS wants to develop medicines based on Rigel’s portfolio of TGF beta receptor kinase inhibitors. These molecules block activation of transforming growth factor (TGF) receptors, which are involved in one of the mechanisms by which cancers suppress our immune systems. BMS intends to develop these into drugs either alone or in combination with its immune-boosting antibody drugs Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab).