BioMarin Pharmaceutical has signed an agreement to buy fellow Californian-based firm Lead Therapeutics and get hold of the latter’s early-stage cancer compound.

Under the terms of the deal, BioMarin will make an upfront payment of $18 million. Thereafter the value of the transaction will depend on the success of LT-673. Lead’s orally available PARP (poly ADP-ribose polymerase) inhibitor for the treatment of patients “with rare, genetically-defined cancers”.

Once an Investigational New Drug filing is made, expected by the end of 2010, BioMarin will pay an additional $11 million and up to $68 million for development and launch milestones for LT-673. As a result of the acquisition, BioMarin expects to incur a$11-$13 million in operating expenses and acquisition related charges for this year.

Jean-Jacques Bienaime, BioMarin’s chief executive, said that there are “attractive opportunities to treat rare cancers with PARP-sensitive mutations, as a single agent and in combination with other DNA damaging agents, and to improve on PARP inhibitors currently in development for more common tumor types". Hank Fuchs, the company’s chief medical officer, added that LT-673 has been proven to be highly active in mouse xenograft models of human cancer “and appears to have favourable properties, including potency, selectivity, and bioavailability”.

Mr Bienaime added that BioMarin is also now preparing for the launch of amifampridine for the rare autoimmune disease Lambert Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome, in Europe. He added that group revenues in 2010 should be in the region of $374-$405 million, up from $313-$327 million last year, driven by Naglazyme (galsulfase) for mucopolysaccharidosis VI.