Antisoma says it is to acquire privately-owned US cancer company, Aptamera, in a £11.5 million pound share-based deal that brings the UK firm the rights to a novel anti-cancer agent, known as AGRO100.

Under the terms of the deal, Antisoma is issuing 66.5 million new shares, representing around 20% of its enlarged share capital. The agreement remains contingent on approval from a majority of Aptamera’s shareholders on or before February 2.

Antisoma has delivered on its promise late last year that it was planning to add another clinical product to its portfolio [[23/11/04f]], and notes that AGRO100 – an aptamer drug targeting the nucleolin protein, which is found on the surface of many types of cancer cell – has shown promising anti-cancer effects and a marked lack of side effects in a Phase I trial in patients with various cancers. Antisoma is now assessing which cancers to focus on in the next stage of development, but notes that the product has US orphan drug status in pancreatic cancer, while renal cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia could all be potential indications.

Commenting on the transaction, Antisoma’s chief executive, Glyn Edwards, said: “The acquisition of Aptamera will expand our clinical portfolio to four drugs, each based on very different technology, and make us a leader in the exciting new area of anti-cancer aptamers.”