SUMMIT, N.J. & SAN DIEGO—Celgene Corporation (CELG) struck a $485 million deal to acquire cancer drugmaking company Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, the company announced this morning. The deal between the two cancer specialists, has been nearly four years in the making, following a partnership established in 2011.

The news of the acquisition sent Celgene’s stock up more than $5 per share this morning, trading a high as $120.72 per share. The stock opened Monday morning at $115.93 per share.

Celgene and Quanticel have maintained a strategic alliance since 2011. That alliance allowed Quanticel to develop industrialized its single-cell platform for analysis of tumor cellular content and apply the platform to target discovery and the development of high-quality drug candidates. Under terms of that deal, Celgene provided Quanticel upfront payment of $45 million, which not only gave Celgene exclusive third-party rights to Quanticel’s platform, as well as an option to acquire the private drugmaker – which Celgene acted upon.

Under terms of the agreement, which includes a $100 million upfront payment and an additional $385 million in possible milestone payments, Celgene will acquire Quanticel’s proprietary platform for the single-cell genomic analysis of human cancer, as well as Quanticel’s lead programs that target specific epigenetic modifiers to advance the company’s existing pipeline. Quanticel combines insights in tumor heterogeneity with single-cell bioengineering to understand the mechanisms of cancerous tumor sensitivity and resistance to therapeutics, which is then used to develop treatments. Quanticel expects multiple drug candidates to enter the clinic early in 2016.

Tom Daniel, head of research and development for Celgene, said in a statement that the deal with Quanticel “validates an innovative approach to building organizational capabilities.”

While the company did not specify how the acquisition would impact jobs, statements made by Daniel and Steve Kaldor, Quanticel’s chief executive officer, suggested Quanticel’s employees would, for now at least, be absorbed into Celgene’s payroll.

Celgene made clear from the start that they valued both our technology and our team, and this resulted in an extremely collaborative and productive partnership over the past three years,” Kaldor said in a statement.

Earlier this month Celgene entered into a $450 million agreement with AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) to develop MEDI4736, AstraZeneca’s immunotherapy treatment for blood cancer. Under the deal, Celgene will be responsible for selling MEDI4736 in blood cancers and will pay AstraZeneca an initial royalty of 70 percent, which will decrease to approximately half of sales over a period of four years.

Celgene is valued at $97 billion and currently has seven approved drugs on the market, including the company’s top cancer drug, Revlimid, which brought in $4.98 billion last year.

In 2014 Celgene struck 10 deals with smaller biotech companies, with an average of $222 million per partnership, to benefit from the research and development conducted by those smaller companies. The first test of those deals comes from Celgene’s Crohn’s Disease drug GED-0301 (mongersen), licensed from Nogra Pharma for $710 million with a promise of nearly $2 billion more in milestone payments.


April 27, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff