Bristol-Myers Squibb has entered into an agreement with the exclusive option to acquire Denmark’s Galecto Biotech and gain worldwide rights to its lead asset TD139, a novel inhaled inhibitor of galectin-3 in phase I development for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and other pulmonary fibrotic conditions. Total aggregate payments under the agreement have the potential to reach $444 million, which includes the option fee, an option exercise fee and subsequent clinical and regulatory milestone payments.
“Delivering innovative medicines that halt or slow the progression of fibrotic diseases is a key part of our R&D strategy to build a sustainable pipeline,” said Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, BMS. “TD139 provides Bristol-Myers Squibb an opportunity to advance the company’s fibrosis development program with the addition of a promising compound that has the potential to modulate multiple disease pathways.”
“Galecto has, in close collaboration with our founders, managed to demonstrate the importance of galectin-3 as an anti-fibrosis target,” said Hans Schambye, M.D., Ph.D, CEO, Galecto Biotech. “We have confirmed the anti-fibrotic activity of our lead compound, TD139, in several preclinical models and now have taken the compound into clinical testing in healthy volunteers followed by patient studies in early 2015.”
Galectin-3 is a protein which binds to carbohydrate structures in the body, and plays a central role in various types of fibrosis. By targeting and inhibiting the protein’s binding ability, galectin-3 inhibitors represent a promising approach to treat diseases that exhibit galectin-3 expression such as IPF, a chronic, progressive form of lung disease characterized by the scarring of lung tissue for which there are limited treatment options. TD139 is a highly potent, specific inhibitor of the galactoside-binding pocket of galectin-3 formulated for inhalation, which enables direct targeting of the fibrotic tissue in the lungs, while minimizing systemic exposure.
BMS is developing an early stage fibrosis portfolio that includes BMS-986020, a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist in development for the treatment of IPF.
BMS can exercise the option to acquire Galecto at any time following the execution of the transaction agreement but no later than 60 days following completion of the phase Ib trial. The companies have agreed on preclinical studies and a phase I development plan that will be executed by Galecto during the option period.