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PharmAria Announces Strategic Partnership With Celgene (CELG)

10/15/2012 11:58:14 AM

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- PharmAria , LLC., today announced it has entered into an agreement with Celgene Corporation to advance the discovery of new high quality small-molecule therapeutics targeting cancer and fibrotic diseases.

Under the agreement, Celgene Corporation will provide seed-stage funding for PharmAria, and will work with PharmAria to secure additional Series A venture funding in which Celgene will also participate. Following a successful Series A financing, Celgene will receive an equity position in PharmAria, as well as the option to license certain research and development programs. Finally, Celgene will have the option to acquire PharmAria at a later date.

The seed funding being provided by Celgene will be used to secure the initial scientific team, initiate operations and begin to identify clinical candidates against selected targets.

PharmAria brings together a proven team to drive its drug discovery and development programs. The Company was co-founded in mid-2012 by three highly-experienced early-drug developers, John Hutchinson, Ph.D., President, Jilly Evans, Ph.D., CSO, and Kevin Holme, Ph.D., COO, who have over 60 years of combined pharmaceutical experience.

All three founders, along with members of the initial scientific team, worked together at Amira Pharmaceuticals. Dr.'s Hutchinson and Evans were two of the co-founders of Amira in 2005, and led the chemistry and biology teams, respectively. Dr. Holme joined in 2008 as Executive Director of Development, and together the Amira team carried out the pre-clinical development of five compounds that successfully completed Phase 1 clinical trials in less than 6 years. The first two candidates, both FLAP inhibitors, were partnered after Phase 1 to GlaxoSmithKline in a $425 million deal. Subsequent development work resulted in two DP2 antagonists and an LPA1 antagonist that all completed Phase 1 trials prior to the acquisition of Amira by Bristol-Myers Squibb for a total deal of $475 million.

Prior to Amira, both Dr. Hutchinson and Dr. Evans, had nearly 20 years of success at Merck Research Laboratories, where they helped lead the development of Singulair, Vioxx, Arcoxia and several Phase 2 drug candidates. Dr. Holme held a variety of Research, Development and Project Management positions at small biopharma organizations, including SGX Pharmaceuticals. Collectively, the PharmAria team has experience delivering high quality clinical candidates and leveraging those into successful collaborations, licensing deals, acquisitions and commercial products.

"The goal of PharmAria is to bring together excellent people, world class science, and a sense of urgency to efficiently discover and develop new medicines to improve the lives of patients with life threatening diseases. "As our discussions with Celgene developed it became apparent that Celgene would be an ideal business and scientific partner to help PharmAria achieve our goals," said Jilly Evans, PharmAria's CSO.

"We are enthusiastic about PharmAria as a new entity around exciting opportunities in our core areas of inflammatory diseases and oncology, said Thomas Daniel, M.D., Celgene President, Global Research and Early Development. "The PharmAria team has a great track record of prior success. We are committed to new business models with innovators capable of delivering important therapies on aggressive time lines."

John Hutchinson, PharmAria's President said, "The unique deal structure with Celgene provides PharmAria with the ability to create significant value for investors, while simultaneously providing Celgene with access to additional world class research and novel clinical candidates for its pipeline. We are extremely excited to be working with Celgene under a new framework, which we believe will serve as a mutually beneficial model for biopharmaceutical companies to collaborate going forward."

About Celgene

Celgene Corporation, headquartered in Summit, New Jersey, is an integrated global biopharmaceutical company engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene and protein regulation. For more information, please visit the company's Web site at

About PharmAria LLC

PharmAria Therapeutics LLC is a privately held San Diego-based biopharmaceutical company whose focus is to discover and develop small molecule therapeutics directed at cancer and fibrotic diseases. The company was founded in 2012 by a team of drug hunters that had previously co-founded and collaborated together at Amira Pharmaceuticals Inc. (email:


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