News Feature | November 7, 2014

MedImmune Acquires Definiens, Biomarker Tool Technology

By Estel Grace Masangkay

AstraZeneca announced that its global biologics R&D arm MedImmune has acquired the Germany-based firm Definiens, which specializes in imaging and data analysis technology.

The acquisition will give MedImmune access to Tissue Phenomics, a tool used to find biomarkers in tumor tissues. Most significantly, the tool analyzes the relationships between the various parts of a complex tumor microenvironment. Definiens’ proprietary Cognition Network Technology was developed by the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Physics Professor Gerd Binnig.

As part of the agreement, MedImmune will pay an initial consideration of $150 million to acquire 100 percent of Definiens shares. MedImmune will also pay certain pre-agreed milestones. Definiens will continue to conduct business with third-party clients. The acquisition is anticipated to close in the last quarter of 2014.

Thomas Heydler, CEO of Definiens, said that Tissue Phenomics is a crucial step in connecting genomics to patient outcomes. “We look forward to joining the MedImmune team as Tissue Phenomics is of particular importance for personalized medicine in immuno-oncology. Definiens' unique ability to extract information from tissue images enables us to find novel markers for patient stratification by correlating tissue information with clinical outcomes. Together, MedImmune and Definiens can bring tailored treatments to patients faster."

The acquisition will help MedImmune progress in discovering novel predictive biomarkers in the development of immuno-oncology treatments. Biomarkers are being explored for their potential to aid in determining the right patients for clinical trials. It is also considered instrumental in shortening clinical development timelines and increasing patient response rates.

Dr. Bahija Jallal, EVP of MedImmune, said, “Definiens’ technology will complement our immuno-oncology approach and allow us to accelerate further our clinical programs through its highly precise predictive and prognostic biomarker testing. We look forward to working with Definiens’ scientists to give patients the best chance of receiving the targeted medicines suited for their particular needs.”

The acquisition of Definiens’ technology will help AstraZeneca advance its most promising leads in its small molecule and biologics pipeline as well as develop potential companion diagnostics for its treatments. Earlier this year, AZ forged several similar partnerships, including with Dutch company Qiagen and gene-sequencing firm Illumina to strengthen its diagnostics business.