Bristol-Myers Squibb has acquired iPierian in a deal that could be worth $725 million to the neurodegenerative disease specialists.

The US major is paying $175 million upfront for privately-held iPierian, which is developing treatments for tauopathies, a class of diseases associated with the aggregation of Tau protein in the brain. Its lead product is IPN007, a preclinical monoclonal antibody to treat progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disease that presents as an atypical Parkinson's disorder.

The treatment also has the potential for future development in other tauopathies such as frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If all development and regulatory milestones are met, iPierian's former owners could bank another $550 million, plus royalties.

The deal was announced as B-MS posted first-quarter financials which show that net income leapt 54% to $937 million, thanks to proceeds from the recent sale of its diabetes drug business to AstraZeneca. Revenues slipped 1% to $3.81 billion.

Sales of the antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) were up 3% to $540 million, and as for the firm's HIV drugs, the Sustiva (efavirenz) franchise decreased 18% to $319 million and Reyataz (atazanavir) was down 5% to $344 million. Revenues from Baraclude (entecavir) for hepatitis B climbed 11% to $406 million.

Sprycel (dasatanib) for leukaemia leapt 19% to $365 million, while Orencia (abatacept) for rheumatoid arthritis increased 13% to $363 million. The cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) was up 4% to $169 million, while the melanoma drug Yervoy (ipilimumab) soared 18% to $271 million. The oral anticoagulant Eliquis (apixaban) partnered with Pfizer, had global sales of $106 million.

Nivolumab filing

B-MS also noted that it has recently met with the US Food and Drug Administration regarding the results of a study which evaluated its closely-watched PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab in third-line squamous cell non-small cell lung cancer. The company now plans to initiate a rolling submission for this indication based on the trial (called study 063) in the coming days and complete the filing by year-end.