LONDON (Reuters) - British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Tuesday its MedImmune unit would buy biotech company Spirogen for up to $440 million to bolster its research and development pipeline in oncology.
Don't miss these Health stories
More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?
Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.
- Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
- Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
- CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
- What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says
- More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?
Privately held Spirogen focuses on antibody-drug conjugate technology, which has the potential to directly target cancer tumors while safeguarding healthy cells, AstraZeneca said.
AstraZeneca said it would pay an initial $200 million plus a further $240 million if Spirogen meets development targets.
It will also pay $20 million to take an equity investment in Swiss-based ADC Therapeutics, which has a licensing agreement with Spirogen.
"The cutting-edge technologies developed by Spirogen and ADC Therapeutics complement MedImmune's innovative antibody engineering capabilities, enabling us to accelerate antibody-drug conjugates into the clinic," said MedImmune Executive Vice President Bahija Jallal.
Oncology treatments, both traditional "small cell" pills and injectable biologics, has been prioritized as a research area by AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot, who used to head Roche's Genentech biotech unit.
MedImmume, the U.S. biotech business that AstraZeneca bought in 2007 for $15.6 billion, is key to the strategy.
The unit is focused on two key areas in oncology development: antibody-drug conjugates and immune-mediated cancer therapy, which aims to harness the power of the patient's own immune system to fight cancer.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton and David Cowell)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp