17 September 2012

Bionomics Acquires US-Based Cancer Stem Cell Company Eclipse Therapeutics

17 September 2012 - Bionomics Limited has acquired San Diego-based private biotechnology company Eclipse Therapeutics Inc (Eclipse) in a scrip-based US$10 million deal. With consideration of approximately 23.9 million shares at 41.76 cents per share, Eclipse shareholders, that include NASDAQ-listed Biogen Idec, will own approximately 6.5% of Bionomics’ issued capital.

A spin-off of the Biogen Idec Inc oncology franchise, Eclipse is developing drug candidates that target cancer stem cells (CSCs).CSCs are the seeds at the root of cancer, and CSC technology is thus viewed by many oncologists and pharmaceutical companies as a high priority, new oncology drug frontier. 

Eclipse’s lead compound ET101 is aimed at an undisclosed CSC target which is over-expressed on most solid tumours. ET101 is expected to move into human trials in 2014. In March 2012 Eclipse reached a development and manufacturing agreement for production of the ET101 antibody with Swiss life science leader Lonza Group Limited. Oncology antibody drugs had global sales of more than US$20 billion dollars in 2011. 

This acquisition elevates and expands Bionomics’ oncology pipeline beyond BNC105, our primary cancer drug candidate which is now at advanced clinical stages. It also establishes Bionomics as a global leader at the forefront of cancer stem cell therapeutics,” said Dr Deborah Rathjen, CEO and Managing Director of Bionomics. 

Since 2004, significant resources have been invested in Eclipse’s CSC drug program. Eclipse's CSC Rx Discovery™ platform has been used to identify antibody therapeutics that inhibit the growth of CSCs. 

Scientific and clinical research supports the concept that CSCs are responsible for tumour initiation and recurrence. Cancer stem cells tend to be resistant to chemotherapy and other conventional forms of cancer treatment. 

Eclipse was founded by former Biogen Idec employees Dr Peter Chu and Dr Christopher Reyes along with Dr Jonathan Lim, managing partner of City Hill Ventures and includes a world-classteam of scientists. Dr Lim has been appointed a Non-executive Director of Bionomics. Dr Peter Chu and Dr Chris Reyes have taken up the positions of Vice President US Operations and Cancer Biology and Vice President R&D Biologics respectively for Bionomics. 

In addition to acquiring Eclipse’s world-class assets, Bionomics’ expansion into the US will enable it to benefit from a number of synergies as well as bring greater profile to its business development activities and accelerate its small molecule and antibody programs. 

Bionomics’ Chairman Mr. Chris Fullerton said, “With the acquisition of Eclipse, Bionomics also achieves a key corporate goal of establishing a meaningful and prospective presence in the US”. 

Bionomics (ASX: BNO) is a leading international biotechnology company which discovers and develops innovative therapeutics for cancer and diseases of the central nervous system. Bionomics has small molecule product development programs in the areas of cancer, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. 

Source: Bionomics