AstraZeneca’s MedImmune to acquire Amplimmune
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


GAITHERSBURG, Md.—With Aug. 26 came news that MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Amplimmune, another Maryland-based biologics company focused on developing novel therapeutics in cancer immunology. Investors barely reacted to the news, and the stock price went up only slightly to about $50.80 per share on Monday, and then down again until it was at about $50.20 at the end of Tuesday trading.  
Under the terms of the agreement, MedImmune will acquire 100 percent of Amplimmune's shares for an initial consideration of $225 million and deferred consideration of as much as $275 million based on reaching predetermined development milestones.
According to those within the AstraZeneca family, the acquisition will bolster MedImmune's oncology pipeline by obtaining multiple early-stage assets for its immune-mediated cancer therapy (IMT-C) portfolio, including AMP-514, an anti-programmed cell death 1 monoclonal antibody. AMP-514 is currently in late-stage preclinical development with the aim of an investigational new drug filing before the end of 2013. Other Amplimmune assets include multiple preclinical molecules targeting the B7 pathways.  
MedImmune's oncology research is focused on IMT-C, which it calls "a promising therapeutic approach that may lead to durable and prolonged response rates across a range of cancer types." IMT-Cs are being designed to empower the immune system to counteract the tactics employed by cancer cells to avoid detection and attack the body.  
"MedImmune's focus on harnessing the power of the patient's own immune system to fight cancer will be complemented by Amplimmune's innovative work in this area. It will allow us to strengthen our arsenal of potential cancer therapies," said Dr. Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune. "We are excited to be working with the Amplimmune team to help find new treatments to address areas of unmet medical need."  
Over at the Seeking Alpha site, the analyst take was that the deal "is aimed to boost the future pipeline of the troubled pharmaceutical company but promises no quick fixes to address the company's current troubles," leaving the analyst writing, "I remain on the sidelines."  
Zacks Investment Research, while it wasn't bullish about the deal, was slightly more upbeat, noting, "We believe the proposed acquisition of Amplimmune makes strategic sense. AstraZeneca already has a number of immune-mediated cancer candidates including tremelimumab and MEDI-4736. Amplimmune's technology and pipeline will boost AstraZeneca's pipeline and generate synergies."  
"Both companies are passionate about developing new cancer therapies for patients and are excited about the potential of immunotherapies. We are pleased to be joining MedImmune, who will work to further advance the pioneering work we've been conducting in this area," said Michael Richman, Amplimmune's president and CEO. "The synergy achieved by combining our pipelines provides an important path towards developing novel immunotherapy products."  
The proposed transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013.  

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