Monday, January 11, 2016

[U] After Very Promising Nov. 2015 Immuno-Oncology Preclinical Results, Scotland's IOMet Wins -- Merck Snaps It Up -- Terms Withheld

UPDATED: 01.12.2016 @ 2 PM EST -- The "Beeb" (BBC) is claiming that Kenilworth has agreed to pay up to $400 million for IOMet. Not sure whether that is accurate, but it is clearly. . . immaterial to Merck. [End, Updated portion.] The Edinburgh-based IOMet Pharma is a private company, and the price paid is immaterial to Merck, so we may never know what Kenilworth paid to get this access to yet another promising immuno-based potential suite of candidate cancer therapies.

What we do know is that it is almost always cheaper to buy on the promise, than to wait for the product. Of course, that thinking assumes there is ultimately. . . a product. But MRL has shown itself to be pretty good at guessing on emerging cancer therapies, of late. So this outlay seems a pretty good bet. It is becoming increasingly clear that Merck is thinking into 2020, and beyond -- and all the while, thinking about leading, in these franchises, for the long(er) haul. And (in my view) that's excellently refreshing -- far less "quarter to quarter" small-ball. Here's the NYSE after-market close press release, this evening:

. . . .[Merck] announced today that it has acquired IOmet, a privately-held UK-based drug discovery company focused on the development of innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer, with a particular emphasis on the fields of cancer immunotherapy and cancer metabolism. Under terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire IOmet, including its comprehensive pre-clinical pipeline of IDO (indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1), TDO (tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase), and dual-acting IDO/TDO inhibitors. Based on the transaction, IOmet will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck.

"By harnessing the power of the immune system, we are already witnessing great advancements in the treatment of cancer," said Eric Rubin, M.D., vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories. "The acquisition of IOmet is a further example of Merck’s commitment to fully realizing the potential of this rapidly evolving field through our existing innovative portfolio as well as the acquisition of promising immunotherapeutic candidates. . . ."

Merck plainly wants to be a long term leader in the emerging and very high margin world of immuno-oncology. This is more proof of that. Onward, while grinning ear-to-ear -- at all the possibilities a second batch of new life, in the new millennium, holds!

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