Astra Zeneca arm buys oncology drugs company Spirogen

Biopharmaceuticals company Astra Zeneca announced today that one of its research arms has acquired Spirogen, a privately-held biotech company that focuses on a drug technology used in oncology.

MedImmune, the global arm of Astra Zeneca, will acquire 100 per cent of Spirogen's shares for an initial consideration of $200m (£125m) and deferred consideration of up to $240m (£150m), based on reaching preset development milestones. MedImmune is also in collaboration with ADC Therapeutics in developing other antibody-drug conjugates (the kind of drugs Spirogen make).

The drugs offer high potency and selective targeting of cancer cells. Oncology is a core therapy area for Astra Zeneca, with MedImmune building a comprehensive portfolio of antibody-drug conjugates and immune-mediated cancer therapy that aim to harness the power of the patient's own immune system to fight cancer.

"This deal reflects the very significant progress made by our scientists, most notably over the last two years, as we have applied our warhead and linker technologies to the development of highly potent and specificantibody-drug conjugates," said Dr. Chris Martin, chief executive officer of Spirogen. "We believe that pyrrolobenzodiazepine-armed antibody-drug conjugates will emerge as a critical component in the next generation of cancer biologics with the potential to make a difference for oncologists and their patients."

MedImmune will also pay $20m for an equity investment in ADC Therapeutics, which will be matched by the majority shareholder in both ADC and Spirogen, Auven Therapeutics.