UPDATED: Amgen snags KAI Pharma's CKD program in $315M buyout

In the latest in a string of biotech acquisitions, Amgen says it is buying KAI Pharmaceuticals for $315 million in cash, with plans to lend enough money to fuel work on a late-stage study of their lead drug as the two companies complete the buyout deal.

As with other buyouts, Amgen ($AMGN) is focused on adding a new treatment to the pipeline that's already gained proof-of-concept data and is poised for a pivotal trial. This time the spotlight is on KAI-4169, an experimental therapy for secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients with chronic kidney disease. It's the only therapy listed on KAI's website, though Amgen officials note that the biotech also has some preclinical programs in development. A few months ago KAI started its second mid-stage study of the IV formulation of 4169, a calcium-sensing receptor agonist.

"KAI and the nephrology community are excited by the additional clinical data we've generated for KAI-4169, and we are thrilled that Amgen shares our perspective on the differentiated profile and potential of this product candidate," said Steve James, president and chief executive officer of South San Francisco-based KAI.

Amgen doesn't execute a big number of deals, but in a little more than a year it has now acquired three biotech companies: BioVex for up to $1 billion, Micromet in a $1.16 billion deal and now an all-cash acquisition for $315 million. A year ago, it also bought Bergamo to expand operations in Brazil. With its anemia franchise under pressure and facing new competition, Amgen's been lining up a slate of key mid- and late-stage drugs that promise to replace lost income. And it recently struck a deal to let AstraZeneca ($AZN) pick up the burn on a lineup of early-stage antibodies as it restructures its pipeline.

Mike Severino, Amgen's new chief medical officer and head of global development, tells FierceBiotech that the big biotech company is still in the hunt for buyouts. "We're always out there looking to supplement our pipeline," he says, noting that Amgen is fairly agnostic in terms of what stage of development an acquisition target is at. "It's always about the science," he adds, where important new mechanisms can begin to address unmet medical needs. KAI's work fits that model.

KAI has accumulated a lineup of venture backers, which includes Aberdare, Delphi and Intersouth.

- here's the press release