12 November 2009

A tale of two deals

Two deals involving companies in the fragment space were announced today. I don’t have inside information on either of these, but superficially they are strikingly different.

In the first, Australia’s Biota has agreed to acquire UK-based Prolysis Limited, which previously published some nice work on using FBLD to discover new antibiotic leads (see here and here). The price? Just $10.8 million. However, Biota did say it plans to invest up to $25 million over the next three years on programs Prolysis started.

At the same time, UK-based Astex Therapeutics announced a new partnership with GlaxoSmithKline. The deal is for multiple targets in multiple therapeutic areas, with Astex focused on fragment screening and lead discovery and GSK focused on optimization of the resulting leads as well as preclinical and clinical development. The price? $33 million in up-front cash and equity, with a total potential of more than $500 million (BioBucks).

Astex of course is one of the few intact survivors of the first wave of fragment-based companies and has put several compounds into the clinic, including AT9283, AT7519, and others. It’s encouraging to see that deals of this size are still being done for what look to be fairly early stage collaborations.

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