Seattle Genetics has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of biopharmaceutical firm Cascadian Therapeutics for around $614m.

Seattle Genetics expects that the deal will boost its late-stage oncology clinical pipeline with a potential orally available and highly selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

Cascadian is currently developing an investigational oral, small molecule TKI called tucatinib that has high selectivity for the HER2 growth factor receptor.

At present, the product candidate is in randomised, global, pivotal HER2CLIMB clinical trial involving patients suffering from HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, with or without brain metastases.

Tucatinib is currently being studied as both a monotherapy and combination therapy with chemotherapy and other HER2-directed agents, and was found to be well-tolerated with favourable clinical activity during Phase Ib trials performed in combination with capecitabine and trastuzumab.

“Beyond breast cancer, we believe there may be opportunities for tucatinib in other tumour types, such as HER2-positive metastatic colorectal cancer.”

Seattle Genetics president and CEO Clay Siegall said: “Tucatinib would complement our existing pipeline of targeted cancer therapies, provide a third late-stage opportunity for a commercial product in solid tumours and expand our global efforts in breast cancer.

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“Beyond breast cancer, we believe there may be opportunities for tucatinib in other tumour types, such as HER2-positive metastatic colorectal cancer.”

The firm intends to use its expertise and resources to advance and expand the tucatinib programme.

Cascadian Therapeutics president and CEO Scott Myers said: “Seattle Genetics has the development and commercial capabilities and the resources needed to more fully realise the potential of tucatinib as a new best-in-class treatment option for metastatic breast cancer, colorectal cancer and potentially for other indications.”

After completion of the transaction, Cascadian Therapeutics will be merged with and into one of Seattle Genetics’ wholly owned subsidiary.