Bristol-Myers Squibb has paid for the right to acquire US clinical stage immunotherapy group Promedior in a deal that could be worth up to $1.25 billion, securing access to the firm’s fibrotic disease candidates.

The said amount includes an upfront cash payment of $150 million, an exercise fee payable if BMS decides to buy the business, and subsequent clinical and regulatory milestone payments.

Under the move BMS could gain worldwide rights to Promedior’s lead asset PRM-151, a recombinant form of human pentraxin-2 protein in Phase II development for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and myelofibrosis (MF).

In preclinical models, the drug was able to regulate monocytes and macrophages at areas of tissue damage to prevent and reverse fibrosis, including IPF, acute and chronic nephropathy, liver fibrosis, and age-related macular degeneratio, the firms said. 

Phase II trials in MF and IPF are scheduled to start in the coming weeks, and on their completion BMS can exercise its right to acquire Promedior if it chooses.

“PRM-151 will complement our growing early-stage fibrosis portfolio, and we are excited by its potential to address multiple fibrotic diseases,” said Francis Cuss, chief scientific officer at the US drugs giant.

Cancer immunotherapy deal

News of the deal came just a day after BMS said it is linking with Australia’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in a pact to discover novel therapeutic antibodies against an undisclosed immuno-oncology target.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.