Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based biotechnology firm Cardioxyl Pharmaceuticals for $2.07bn.

The biotech firm is focused on the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents for treatment of cardiovascular disease.

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The acquisition is scheduled to be closed in the fourth quarter of this year, and will give BMS the rights to Cardioxyl’s new nitroxyl (HNO) donor (prodrug), CXL-1427.

CXL-1427 is in Phase II clinical development as an intravenous treatment for patients with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF).

As part of the deal, Cardioxyl will receive upfront and near-term payments of up to $300m and about $1.775bn in development, regulatory and sales milestones.

CXL-1427 is a new, improved second-generation prodrug that breaks down chemically to produce HNO and an inactive byproduct after intravenous administration.

BMS executive vice-president and chief scientific officer Francis Cuss said: "The acquisition of Cardioxyl strengthens Bristol-Myers Squibb’s heart failure pipeline with a Phase II asset that has the potential to change the course of the disease rather than simply treating the symptoms.

"Bristol-Myers Squibb is uniquely positioned, with our understanding of patient needs in the hospital setting and our heritage in cardiovascular diseases, to continue development of CXL-1427 as a potential new therapy to address the clinical and economic burden of heart failure."

The pre-clinical and early clinical data showed that CXL-1427 improves how the heart muscle contracts and relaxes without increasing heart rate or demand for oxygen.

"Heart failure is an important and under-served therapeutic area."

The company noted that existing therapies for ADHF that improve heart muscle function produce an increase in heart rate and/or oxygen consumption, and are associated with an increased risk for ischemia, arrhythmias and increased mortality.

Cardioxyl president and CEO Christopher Kroeger said: "We are excited about the breadth of drug development capabilities and cardiovascular expertise that Bristol-Myers Squibb will bring to the nitroxyl donor programme.

"Heart failure is an important and under-served therapeutic area and we believe Bristol-Myers Squibb is the optimal partner to bring new therapeutic options to the patients who need them."

HNO has been evaluated for its potential as a treatment for heart failure, it dilates blood vessels and acts directly on the heart through a unique mechanism to safely improve both systolic and diastolic function.

Image: BMS will initially make $300m as an upfront and near-term milestone payment to Cardioxyl. Photo: courtesy of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.