Cell Therapeutics has been known to travel the world to find new drugs to develop, and the latest stop is Singapore.
The Seattle-based biotech company (NASDAQ: CTIC) said today it has agreed to acquire picritinib, a drug from S*Bio of Singapore, that’s designed to block biological targets known as JAK2 and FLT3. The company agreed to pay $15 million in upfront cash, and another $15 million worth of stock, for the worldwide commercial rights to the new compound. S*Bio stands to collect more undisclosed milestone payments, and royalties if the drug ever reaches the marketplace. For that consideration, Cell Therapeutics says it is getting a drug candidate for Phase III clinical trials against myelofibrosis, a serious bone marrow disorder.
Cell Therapeutics said the drug offers an “encouraging clinical benefit” in today’s press release announcing the deal. Srdan Verstovsek, a researcher from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX said in a company statement that the drug appeared in previous trials to reduce symptoms of myelofibrosis and didn’t appear to knock out red blood cells and platelet cells, like others in its class. But eight of 34 patients dropped out of a recent mid-stage trial because of adverse events, and 10 had to have their doses reduced because of adverse events, researchers said in data presented in December at the American Society of Hematology. Gastrointestinal effects, like nausea and diarrhea, were the most common side effects, researchers said.
By getting the new compound, Cell Therapeutics will have something else to work on after its lead drug pixantrone (Pixuvri) failed to win FDA approval as a treatment for lymphoma. Despite that stumble and others, Cell Therapeutics has continually found a way to raise money from investors. It had $47.1 million in cash and investments on the books at the end of December. But it reported a $62 million operating loss last year, and the company said in its recent annual report that it doesn’t have enough to fund operations beyond the second quarter of 2012.
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