AbbVie to buy privately held oncology company Stemcentrx in a $5.8 bn deal

US biopharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc today struck a deal to buy privately-held oncology company Stemcentrx in a deal valued at $5.8 billion in order to expand its cancer treatment drugs portfolio.

AbbVie will acquire Stemcentrx for around $5.8 billion in cash and stock.  AbbVie will pay approximately $2 billion of the transaction value in cash and fund the remaining portion with stock.

In addition, Stemcentrx investors are eligible to receive up to $4 billion in cash for additional, success-based milestone payments for the achievement of certain regulatory and clinical developments.

The proposed acquisition comes a year after AbbVie paid $21 billion to buy Pharmacyclics Inc, in order to include cancer drug Imbruvica to its portfolio.

Stemcentrx lead drug is rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) currently in registrational trials for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Rova-T is a novel biomarker-specific therapy that is derived from cancer stem cells and targets delta-like protein 3 that is expressed in more than 80 per cent of SCLC patient tumors and is not present in healthy tissue.

Registrational trials for third-line small cell lung cancer are expected to complete by the end of 2016.

Rova-T is under investigation as a third-line treatment in SCLC, where there is no currently approved therapy. Rova-T also has been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for Breakthrough Therapy designation.

"Rova-T is the first predictive biomarker-based therapy associated with drug efficacy in small cell lung cancer, and that is a big deal for this difficult disease," said Charles Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., chief, thoracic oncology service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Apart from Rova-T, Stemcentrx has four novel compounds in clinical trials across several solid tumor indications including triple-negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
It has additional pre-clinical compounds advancing toward clinical trials in 2016 and a proprietary technology platform that leverages stem cell biology to identify and screen potential targets against live tumor tissue to more predictably advance discovery and development of new assets.