Former Mtech Maryland Industrial Partnerships Funding Recipient Amplimmune Acquired by MedImmune for $500 Million

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MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca PLC, has agreed to pay up to $500 million to acquire Amplimmune Inc., a privately held, Maryland, U.S.-based biologics company focused on developing novel therapeutics in cancer immunology.

The acquisition will bolster MedImmune's oncology pipeline by obtaining multiple early-stage assets for its immune-mediated cancer therapy (IMT-C) portfolio, including AMP-514, an anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody (mAb). AMP-514 is currently in late-stage pre-clinical development with the aim of an investigational new drug (IND) filing before the end of 2013. Other Amplimmune assets include multiple preclinical molecules targeting the B7 pathways. MedImmune's oncology research is focused on IMT-C, a promising therapeutic approach that may lead to durable and prolonged response rates across a range of cancer types. IMT-Cs are being designed to empower the immune system to counteract the tactics employed by cancer cells to avoid detection and attack the body.

Under the terms of the agreement, MedImmune will acquire 100 percent of Amplimmune's shares for an initial consideration of $225 million and deferred consideration of up to $275 million based on reaching predetermined development milestones.

"MedImmune’s focus on harnessing the power of the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer will be complemented by Amplimmune's innovative work in this area. It will allow us to strengthen our arsenal of potential cancer therapies," said Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune. "We are excited to be working with the Amplimmune team to help find new treatments to address areas of unmet medical need." 

Through Mtech's Maryland Industrial Partnerships program, which supports university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products, Amplimmune needed to determine if its then-leading drug candidate, AMP-224, enhanced the immune response in vivo and in vitro. 

In 2009, Amplimmune worked with Dean Mann, professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore to bridge the gap between mouse model studies and human clinical trials for their lead drug candidate to see if it enhances immune responses. The methods developed in this collaboration are useful in testing the activity of AMP-224 for product release, and in determining whether patients are responding to AMP-224 treatment. 

In August 2010, Amplimmune and GlaxoSmithKline entered into a partnership and global strategic collaboration on the AMP-224 program in a deal generating $23M in up-front payments and worth potentially $485M if successfully commercialized.

Amplimmune was founded by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Professors Drew Pardoll and Dr. Lieping Chen. Amplimmune CEO Michael Richman has more than 24 years of experience in research, IP and business development capacities in companies such as Chiron Corporation (now Novartis), MedImmune (now Astra Zeneca), and most recently, with MacroGenics.

MedImmune, with its clinical stage programmes – tremelimumab, anti-OX40 mAb and MEDI-4736 (anti-PD-L1 mAb) - and a robust pre-clinical pipeline, is building one of the most comprehensive programmes in IMT-C. The acquisition of the Amplimmune technology and pipeline significantly strengthens the AstraZeneca and MedImmune portfolio, enabling the pursuit of the most effective data-driven combinations of IMT-C molecules as well as combinations with highly targeted small molecules. Because of the complexity of cancer biology, combination therapies have the potential to be one of the most effective ways of treating this disease.

"Both companies are passionate about developing new cancer therapies for patients and are excited about the potential of immunotherapies. We are pleased to be joining MedImmune, who will work to further advance the pioneering work we’ve been conducting in this area," said Michael Richman, Amplimmune's President and Chief Executive Officer. "The synergy achieved by combining our pipelines provides an important path towards developing novel immunotherapy products."

The proposed transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD, Amplimmune is focused on developing novel co-stimulatory/co-inhibitory molecules that rebalance the immune system and are intended for treating cancer, autoimmune disease, infectious disease, and transplantation. With its strong product-based focus, Amplimmune has rapidly developed three biologic product candidates: AMP-224 is in Phase 1b trials in cancer; AMP-110 for autoimmune diseases in partnership with Daiichi Sankyo; and AMP-514 for cancer. Working closely with its collaborators, Amplimmune is expanding its technology base in the area of immune co-stimulatory/co-inhibitory molecules and has assembled a large foundation of reagents, models, know-how, and intellectual property to further develop its product pipeline as well as to discover novel biomarkers, ligands, and receptors. The company is funded by InterWest Partners and The Wellcome Trust. For more information, please visit  

Published August 27, 2013