Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has entered an agreement to acquire biotechnology firm Flexus Biosciences for around $1.25bn.

The deal includes the upfront payment of approximately $800m, in addition to the development milestone payments that could total up to $450m.

Established in 2013, Flexus develops and commercialises small-molecule cancer immunotherapies targeting regulatory T cells.

Bristol-Myers Squibb executive vice-president and chief scientific officer Francis Cuss said: "Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to leading scientific advances in immuno-oncology and our acquisition of Flexus will expand our innovative pipeline with an important approach to enhancing immune responses in cancer."

As a result of the deal, BMS will receive the full rights of F001287, Flexus’s lead preclinical small molecule IDO1-inhibitor targeted for IND filing in the second half of 2015.

"All non-IDO/TDO assets of Flexus will be retained by the newly formed entity established by the current shareholders of Flexus."

BMS will also acquire Flexus’ IDO/TDO discovery programme, comprising IDO-selective, IDO/TDO dual and TDO-selective compound libraries.

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All non-IDO/TDO assets of Flexus, from and after the closing, will be retained by the newly formed entity established by the current shareholders of Flexus.

The new entity will also retain assets related to Flexus’s Phase I FLT3 and CDK4/6 inhibitor, earlier stage small-molecule Treg cancer immunotherapy programmes and current personnel and facilities.

Flexus Biosciences CEO Terry Rosen said: "Bristol Myers Squibb is a recognised leader in the cancer immunotherapy field, and we are delighted with the opportunity to have their organisation advance the development of our potentially best-in-class IDO/TDO inhibitors and to bring more innovative cancer immunotherapies to patients."

Subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, the deal is expected to be complete in the first quarter of this year.

Image: A research campus operated by Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey. Photo: courtesy of Coolcaesar.