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4 March, 2021 - 15:04 By Tony Quested

Amgen acquisition of Five Prime valued at $1.9bn

Global biopharma business Amgen, which has major R & D operations at Cambridge Science Park, has agreed to buy San Francisco company Five Prime Therapeutics in a deal valued at around $1.9 billion. Both companies are quoted on Nasdaq.

Five Prime is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing immuno-oncology and targeted cancer therapies. Amgen said Five Prime's innovative pipeline was a great addition to its own leading oncology portfolio.

Five Prime's lead asset, bemarituzumab, is a first-in-class, Phase 3 ready anti-FGFR2b antibody with positive data from a randomised, placebo-controlled Phase 2 study in frontline advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. 

Bemarituzumab targets FGFR2b, which has been found to be overexpressed in approximately 30 per cent of patients with non-HER2 positive gastric cancer, as well as other solid tumours.

A trial demonstrated clinically meaningful improvements in progression-free survival, overall survival and overall response rate in the frontline treatment of patients with advanced gastric or GEJ cancer. 

Additional analysis showed a positive correlation between efficacy and expression of FGFR2b on tumour cells, confirming both the importance of the FGFR2b target and the activity of bemarituzumab against this target.

This correlation suggests that FGFR2b could play a role in other epithelial cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and other cancers. 

The acquisition of Five Prime also supports Amgen's international expansion strategy. Gastric cancer is one of the world's most common forms of cancer and is particularly prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region, where Amgen expects to generate significant volume growth in the coming years. 

Amgen plans to leverage its presence in Japan and other Asia-Pacific markets to maximise bemarituzumab's potential. As part of the deal, Amgen will receive a royalty percentage on future net sales in Greater China ranging from the high teens to the low twenties from a pre-existing co-development and commercialisation agreement between Five Prime and Zai Lab (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.

Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO at Amgen, said: “The acquisition of Five Prime offers a compelling opportunity for Amgen to strengthen our oncology portfolio with a promising late-stage, first-in-class global asset to treat gastric cancer.

“We look forward to welcoming the Five Prime team to Amgen and working with them to leverage our best-in-class monoclonal antibody manufacturing capabilities to supply additional clinical materials, as well as expanded production quantities, to realise the full potential of bemarituzumab for even more patients around the world as quickly as possible.”

Amgen has more than 500 staff in the UK and Ireland, working across commercial and Research & Development organisations. The UK & Ireland commercial affiliate operates from offices in Cambridge, Uxbridge and Dublin. 

In R & D, Cambridge, along with Amgen’s office in Uxbridge, supports clinical development, regulatory affairs and other specialist R & D functions at local, European and global levels – including biostatistical sciences, safety, medical and quality/compliance.

Cambridge Science Park was home to Amgen’s first UK office more than 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of the company’s European R & D organisation ever since. 

Amgen’s UK R & D presence is one of the company’s largest hubs outside its global headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California.

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