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Life science acquisition

US firm acquires Edinburgh cancer drug company

IOmetUS based MSD has acquired Edinburgh drug research company IOmet Pharma for an undisclosed sum. The deal represents an exit for early stage investor the Scottish Investment Bank, part of Scottish Enterprise.

IOmet, founded in 2008,  is focused on the development of innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer, with a particular emphasis on the fields of cancer immunotherapy and cancer metabolism.

Under terms of the agreement, MSD will acquire IOmet, including its comprehensive pre-clinical pipeline of drugs. IOmet will become a wholly owned subsidiary of MSD, known in the US as Merck.

“By harnessing the power of the immune system, we are already witnessing great advancements in the treatment of cancer,” said Eric Rubin, managing director and vice president, at MSD Research Laboratories.

“The acquisition of IOmet is a further example of MSD’s commitment to fully realising the potential of this rapidly evolving field through our existing innovative portfolio as well as the acquisition of promising immunotherapeutic candidates.”

Alan Wise, chief executive of IOmet, said “MSD’s leadership in immuno-oncology and expertise in development combined with the potential of our IDO1 and TDO programs creates significant opportunity for us to advance the treatment of cancer.

“As a company we have benefited from proximity to world class life sciences research including the University of Dundee, an early stage collaborator with us on the IDO1 and TDO programmes and from supportive shareholders including the Scottish Investment Bank.

“We now look forward to joining MSD and feel that this acquisition underscores the shared commitment we have to accelerating our programmes to bring solutions to people who need them most.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The Scottish Government strongly supports the life sciences sector in Scotland and this news is testament to the intellectual vibrancy and strong commercial attractiveness of Scotland’s life science businesses.

“We have clusters of excellence across Scotland including at BioQuarter in the East and at BioCity Newhouse in the West. Both these sites are hugely important to healthcare innovation in Scotland and are therefore both designated as Enterprise Areas.

“The creation of these supportive business environments are having a positive impact on jobs and growth. This announcement demonstrates that the Scottish Government’s investment in the life sciences supports business R&D investment which stimulates sustainable economic growth.”

>> Electronics company Optocap, which was founded by Scottish Enterprise and bought in 2009 by the firm’s management, has been sold to German engineer TUV Nord for an undisclosed sum.

Livingston-based Optocap, which counts the European Space Agency among its customers, said all 30 employees would remain with the business.



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