RayzeBio Inc.’s already wildly successful 2023 ended with its biggest bang yet last week.
The San Diego-based radiopharmaceutical therapeutics company announced Dec. 26 it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb for approximately $4.1 billion.
The acquisition by BMS tops off a year where RayzeBio had one of 2023’s most successful public offerings in the biotech space – an oversubscribed $358 million IPO that closed in September.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) has offered to acquire all of the outstanding shares of RayzeBio (NASDAQ: RYZB) common stock for $62.50 per share in an all-cash transaction for a total equity value of approximately $4.1 billion, or $3.6 billion net of estimated cash acquired. RayzeBio’s board of directors unanimously supported the deal.
The transaction, once approved by shareholders, is expected to close in the first half of 2024.
RayzBio is BMS’ latest San Diego company to acquire. In October, the pharma giant acquired Mirati Therapeutics for $4.8 billion.
RayzeBio’s portfolio of actinium-based radiopharmaceuticals includes programs targeting the treatment of solid tumors, including gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), small cell lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and other cancers.
The company’s technology utilizes Actinium-225 (Ac225) – a highly potent alpha-emitting radioisotope.
“[Ac225’s] radiation is not orders of magnitude, it’s probably millions of orders of magnitude, if not billions of orders of magnitude more potent as a payload than a chemotherapeutic agent,” RayzeBio President and CEO Ken Song, M.D. told the Business Journal in a September 2022 interview.
RayzeBio’s targeted radiopharmaceuticals use an imaging isotope attached to a drug binder and injected into the body of a patient, allowing doctors to screen out patients that the treatment would be ineffective on, thus sparing those patients the discomfort of radiation treatment.
RayzeBio’s lead program – RYZ101 – targets somatostatin receptor 2, which is over-expressed in GEP-NETs and extensive stage small cell lung cancer. A Phase 3 clinical trial launched in May is currently enrolling patients. The company is also enrolling patients in a Phase1b trial to evaluate RYZ101 as a first-line treatment of small cell lung cancer in combination with standard-of-care therapy.
“This transaction enhances our increasingly diversified oncology portfolio by bringing a differentiated platform and pipeline, and further strengthens our growth opportunities in the back half of the decade and beyond,” said Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Christopher Boerner, Ph.D. “Radiopharmaceutical therapeutics are already transforming cancer care, and RayzeBio is at the forefront of pioneering the application of this novel modality. We look forward to supporting and accelerating RayzeBio’s preclinical and clinical programs and advancing its highly innovative radiopharmaceutical platform.”
Samit Hirawat, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of drug development at Bristol Myers Squibb, said acquiring RayzeBio’s actinium-based radiopharmaceutical platform will establish BMS’ presence “in one of the most promising and fastest-growing new modalities for the treatment of patients with solid tumors – delivering radioactive payloads to cancer cells in a targeted manner. In addition, RayzeBio’s platform has the potential to be a significant IND engine, generating several therapeutic candidates in the future by leveraging our global drug development capabilities and infrastructure.”
RayzeBio is currently conducting IND-enabling studies for RYZ801, a peptide targeting glypican-3 for delivery of actinium- based radioactivity to treat hepatocellular cancer, as well as an asset targeting CA9, which is expressed in renal cell cancer.
In addition to its clinical studies, RayzeBio is currently building an in-house manufacturing facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and GMP drug production is expected to begin in the first half of 2024.
“Bristol Myers Squibb’s well-established presence in oncology and deep expertise in developing, commercializing and manufacturing treatments on a global scale makes it the ideal partner for RayzeBio at this important moment in our evolution,” Song said. “I am excited to see what our team achieves as part of Bristol Myers Squibb.”
CEO: Ken Song, M.D.
Headquarters: San Diego, Sorrento Valley
Business: Developer of radiopharmaceutical drugs to treat cancer
Stock: NASDAQ: RYZB
Revenue: Net loss for Q3 2023 was $18.2 million, compared to the net loss for Q3 2022 which was $20.4 million
Notable: RYZ101 is poised to be the first drug using Actinium-225 to be approved for treating cancer tumors.
CEO: Giovanni Caforio
Headquarters: New York City
Business: pharmaceutical company
Stock: BMY (NYSE)
Revenue: $46.2 billion (FY2022)
Notable: Bristol Myers Squib is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.