AstraZeneca strikes $150M deal to buy data analysis business

AstraZeneca Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos

Having tied its future to the success of its immuno-oncology pipeline, AstraZeneca ($AZN) has struck a deal to give it the technology to follow through on its strategy. The deal sees AstraZeneca's biotech unit MedImmune pay $150 million upfront and commit to undisclosed milestone fees to take over German data analysis firm Definiens.

AstraZeneca framed the deal as part of its immuno-oncology strategy. Definiens analyzes the tumor microenvironment from images of the tissue, with a particular focus on the relationships between the components that make up the sample. Users can combine the cell-by-cell readouts with other data sources to create resources that have applications in biomarker discovery.

MedImmune plans to leverage Definiens' ability to generate such data to improve its ability to select patients for clinical trials of its immuno-oncology candidates. "Harnessing this groundbreaking technology will reinforce our approach to developing companion diagnostics that help us in selecting the patients who would benefit the most from therapies across our small molecule and biologics portfolios," AstraZeneca EVP Mene Pangalos said in a statement.

AstraZeneca claims around four-fifths of its pipeline has "a personalized healthcare approach," meaning any tool that helps with patient stratification could have a notable effect on its clinical trials. Definiens will continue serving other clients after the deal closes in the fourth quarter of 2014.

- read the press release