Mississauga’s YM BioSciences acquired by Gilead for $465M

Mississauga drug development company YM BioSciences announced today it had been acquired by Gilead Sciences Inc. for $465 million.

YM’s lead drug is CYT387, a treatment for patients with specific kinds of rare blood disorders, inflammatory disorders and certain cancers, including leukemia.

The move is part of California-based Gilead’s strategy to actively expand its research and development expertise in the area of oncology. In addition to the YM acquisition, the company has appointed cancer researchers and clinicians as well as establishing external scientific partnerships.

“This agreement represents a positive outcome both for myelofibrosis patients and for our shareholders. Gilead has the research and development capabilities and the resources needed to more fully realize the potential of CYT387 as a therapeutic advance for myelofibrosis patients and potentially for other indications,” YM President and CEO Dr. Nick Glover said in a company statement.

YM Biosciences recently reported positive results from a Phase I/II clinical trial of CYT387 in 166 patients with myelofibrosis, a life-threatening rare-blood disorder with limited treatment options. It said patients had marked improvement in their conditions, spleen functions, and the number of individuals dependent on daily transfusions was reduced.

Gilead is also currently conducting trials of its own drug for myelofibrosis and intends to initiate a pivotal phase 3 clinical trial of YM’s CYT387 in the second half of 2013.

The deal has Gilead paying US $2.95 per share in cash and the company plans to fund the acquisition with cash on hand. This transaction puts the value of YM at approximately US $510 million and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

James Smith, YM’s vice-president of corporate affairs, said the company could not disclose if YM employees would continue to be based in Mississauga or be relocated to California, where Gilead is headquartered.

In addition to this acquisition, YM Biosciences has recently been in the news after one of its ventures, CIMYM BioSciences, sold the cancer treatment drug nimotuzumab for at least US$2 million.

In late November, the company brought on cancer research veteran Kapil Dhingra as a director and newest member of the YM board. The Indian-trained doctor with 25 years of experience in cancer research and drug development formerly headed the cancer research efforts at Swiss drug giant Roche. Dhingra is currently running a consulting firm that helps drug research and biotech companies commercialize their medicines.

YM Biosciences was first established in 1994 went public on the stock market in 2002. The Orbitor Rd. company has approximately 40 employees, most of them located at their Mississauga office.

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