Denmark's TopoTarget has agreed to acquire privately-held Swiss biotechnology firm Apoxis in a share deal, valued at a minimum of 14.5 million euros, that will boost its oncology pipeline.

Under the terms of the deal, Apoxis is being bought for an initial consideration of 14.5 million euros, payable in newly-issued TopoTarget shares, with potential additional payments, contingent on certain future product milestones and net proceeds from the relevant compounds. The Danish firm noted that it now expects a pretax loss greater than the 200-220 million kroner, around $40 million, previously forecast for 2007. It will also seek additional capital to fund the consolidation of the new entity’s operations until the end of 2009 through a new share offering.

The rationale for the acquisition is to further increase TopoTarget’s strength in the field of cancer through “two first-in-class oncology products.” The first is APO010, a human protein product generated via Apoxis’ MegaLigand

proprietary protein research technology platform in Phase I, and APO866, a small molecule therapeutic which was in-licensed from Japan’s Astellas Pharma in October 2005.

The latter, a first-in-class specific inhibitor of nicotinamide phosphoribosyl transferase, is being evaluated in two Phase II studies in advanced melanoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and a Phase I/II trial in refractory B-chronic lymphocytic leukaemia not amenable to haematopoietic stem cell transplantion. TopoTarget added that Apoxis’ APO200, a therapeutic human recombinant protein in late pre-clinical development for the treatment of X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, a rare human genetic disease characterised by a reduced ability to sweat and hypersensitivity to heat, aberrant dentition, hairlessness and dry skin, will be outlicensed or sold off.

Peter Buhl Jensen, TopoTarget’s chief executive, said the two additions to the pipeline complement PXD101 (belinostat), which is being developed with partner CuraGen Corp, as a treatment of a wide range of solid and haematologic malignancies either as a single agent, or in combination with other active anti-cancer agents, including 5-FU, carboplatin, paclitaxel and Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ Velcade (bortezomib). He added that following the recent launch of the firm’s first product, Savene (dexrazoxane) for the treatment of anthracycline extravasation, “we now continue the search for new promising drugs.”