Before market open on June 3, Arctic Aurora LifeScience and Arctic Aurora Biotech Select portfolio holding Turning Point Therapeutics announced that they have agreed to be acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb for approximately USD 4.1 billion, representing a premium of 122% over the previous closing price.

Turning Point specializes in carefully designed therapies that target specific disease driving mutations that causes cancer. Its lead drug reprotrectinib target one such driving mutation in a protein known as ROS1 that contributes to the hallmark rapid uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, lung cancers in particular. While only a small portion of patients present with ROS1 changes, for those that are eligible for treatment the effect can be remarkable compared to expected outcomes for lung cancer treatment.

Pfizer and Roche have already ROS1 targeted treatments on the market, approved in 2011 and 2019 respectively. But data released in April 2022 by Turning Point that the antitumor effect and, importantly, the duration of effect of reprotrectinib exceeds those from the previously available drugs looks to position Turning Point’s drug ahead of competitors. Approximately 8 out of 10 lung cancer patients in the clinical trial has significant tumor burden decreases and the effect is sustained for at least 3 years and ongoing. That is how long the best performing patients in the reprotrectinib study have remained on treatment and without tumors progression. That number is noteworthy, considering how aggressive lung cancers typically are and how low survival rates are (roughly 20% of lung patients are alive 5 years after diagnosis).

It is apparent that Bristol believed in the potential for this treatment, in addition to Turning Point’s other programs in development with a similar target therapy approach for cancers. Bristol also happens to be the one of the large pharma companies with the most substantial patent expirations and thereby loss of revenue from its existing product portfolio that includes the blockbuster cancer drugs Revlimid, used in myeloma and other blood cancer treatments, and Opdivo, the groundbreaking immune checkpoint drug. Thus, the acquisition of Turning Point can be seen as a key representation of Bristol’s lifecycle management for its oncology franchise.

The deal marks the 17th portfolio takeout since the launch of Arctic Aurora LifeScience and the 4th since the launch of Artic Aurora Biotech Select only a year ago. It is also the 2nd in only two months after Pfizer’s acquisition of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals in May, signaling that biotech valuations may appear attractive for industrial buyers following the sector downturn in the past year.