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3 January, 2006 - 12:08 By Staff Reporter

AstraZeneca pays £122m for KuDOS

AstraZeneca, one of the five biggest pharma companies in the world, plans to make Cambridge one of its key research centres, following its £122m ($210m) acquisition of cancer specialist, KuDOS Pharmaceuticals.

AstraZeneca’s immediate plans are for KuDOS to become a hub for DNA repair discovery activities reporting into the Global Cancer and Infection Research Area (CIRA) and it will remain at its present sites. CIRA also has discovery hubs in Alderley Park near Manchester, Boston MA and Bangalore.

The acquisition is the seventh such deal in recent months, following on the heels of US-based Celldex’s acquisition of Lorantis; Sosei's acquisition of Arakis; Galapagos’ acquisition of BioFocus; Pharmagene's merger with Asterand; Biovitrum's acquisition of Cambridge Biotechnology and Vernalis’ acquisition of Ionix.

ERBI chief executive Dr Jeff Solomon predicted in Business Weekly in October that the region's cluster would be the focus of more international M&A activity in the absence of an ‘IPO window.’

KuDOS was formed in 1999 and employs 75 across its bases at the Cambridge Science Park and Horsham, Sussex. The company focuses on the discovery and development of cancer therapies based on the inhibition of DNA repair.

KuDOS’ total share capital will be purchased for $210m cash, subject to debt and working capital adjustment. The transaction is expected to close early this year.

Founded by Prof Stephen Jackson of Cambridge University, KuDOS received its first external funding in 1999 the form of a DTI Smart award, raising £5m in its first VC round from Advent, Schroder and 3i later that year. It raised a further £8m from the same investors in 2001, before raising £29.5m from a wider syndicate of investors in September 2002. It was at this stage that EuclidSR Partners, Johnson & Johnson, LSP-Life Sciences and BankInvest Biomedical Venture came on board.

DNA repair inhibitors have the potential to kill cancer cells either as stand-alone therapy or by enhancing the efficacy of chemo- and radiotherapies. Importantly, KuDOS’ selectively kills tumour cells, while leaving normal cells untouched.

The company has a number of products in the clinic, with its lead programme having progressed to Phase II.

“KuDOS Pharmaceuticals is an excellent opportunity to acquire an established technology platform additive to our own oncology research capabilities and promising early development stage compounds at the same time,” said Dr John Patterson, executive director of development at AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca’s sales totalled £12.45bn in 2004, with an operating profit of £2.79bn. It spends over £8.7m on R&D every working day and employs 11,900 people at R&D centres in seven countries: Sweden, UK, USA, Canada, France, India and Japan.

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