Celgene forges $35M cancer, fibrosis discovery pact with PharmAkea

In yet another tie-up with a biotech upstart, Celgene ($CELG) has committed $35 million to PharmAkea Therapeutics, signing a three-deal to collaborate on cancer and fibrosis drug development.

The agreement gives Celgene access to PharmAkea's drug discovery platform, and the two will work to advance small-molecule therapies with an option to extend the alliance once the term expires.

For PharmAkea, the deal is coupled with $10 million in Series A financing from Bay City Capital, cash the nascent company will use to build its infrastructure. Founded by three ex-Amira Pharmaceuticals scientists, the San Diego biotech launched last year with seed funding from Celgene, and reuniting with its benefactor is just what PharmAkea needs to move its programs forward, co-founder John Hutchinson said.

"We see tremendous potential to leverage our expertise in the emerging biological understanding of connective tissue disorders to develop new therapeutics for these grave diseases, which carry high morbidity and mortality and affect a significant portion of the population," Hutchinson said in a statement.

The agreement adds to a long list for the deal-inclined Celgene. This year alone, the New Jersey biotech has shaken hands with antibody superstar Adimab, handed $11 million to Array BioPharma ($ARRY) with an eye on inflammation and put $15 million toward Tengion's regenerative medicine candidate, among other deals.

Celgene is already an established heavyweight in blood cancer therapies, cashing in around the world with the myeloma treatments Revlimid, Thalomid and Pomalyst. And, over the summer, the company put two big bets on the future, paying $100 million for an exclusive option to buy Acetylon Pharmaceuticals and ACY-1215, a Phase II myeloma treatment, and signing an up to $818 million deal to partner with MorphoSys on an early-stage myeloma and leukemia drug.

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