Bayer has announced plans to spend up to $120 million as part of its acquisition of the “haemophilia programme assets” of the USA’s Maxygen.

Chief among those assets is Maxygen’s next-generation recombinant Factor VIIa protein known as MAXY-VII, which is expected to enter Phase I clinical trials in the third quarter of this year. The deal, which also includes a licence to use Maxygen’s MolecularBreeding technology for exploiting gene targets, will see the Leverkusen-based firm forking out $90 million upfront with a final, potential milestone payment of $30 million.

Bayer said that the addition of a development candidate for patients with clotting factor inhibitors should build the firm’s leadership position in haemophilia, a franchise which is led by the recombinant Factor VIII product, Kogenate. The company noted that it is also working in the clinic on developing long-acting forms of Kogenate.

Bayer HealthCare board member Gunnar Riemann said that MAXY-VII has “the potential to be an important expansion of therapeutic options for people living with haemophilia”. He added that the deal “ fits into our growth strategy for our specialty pharmaceutical business and builds on our expertise in the commercialisation and manufacturing of protein therapeutics”.

Russell Howard, Maxygen chief executive, said the deal allows the firm “to capture significant value from this preclinical asset, and puts MAXY-VII in the hands of the haemophilia leader”. He claimed that the latter has the “potential to become the world’s first approved shuffled protein therapeutic”, a milestone that is likely to open up many more opportunities for Maxygen’s technology.