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Innate Immunotherapeutics to buy cancer drug developer in all-stock deal

Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd signed a conditional agreement to acquire all shares of privately held Amplia Therapeutics Pty. Ltd. in exchange for new ordinary shares of Innate.

As part of the deal, Innate will acquire Melbourne-based Amplia's program on focal adhesion kinase, or FAK, a potential target in cancer therapy. Amplia has two FAK-targeting drug candidates, AMP886 and AMP945, which are in-licensed from Cancer Research Technology Ltd., a unit of Cancer Research UK.

Sydney-based Innate plans to refocus on cancer therapies after its multiple sclerosis drug candidate MIS416 failed in a phase 2b trial in October 2017. In the short term, the company will review opportunities for MIS416 and expects to advance at least one of the two Amplia drug candidates to phase 1 stage within a year.

Following the closing of the transaction, Amplia shareholders will hold 45% of Innate's total issued capital, and the Innate board will be composed of three Innate directors and three directors nominated by Amplia.

The deal is subject to certain conditions, including approval by Innate shareholders. The company will also seek shareholder approval for a 1-for-10 consolidation of its stock.

The transaction is expected to close April 30.

Focal adhesion kinase is a protein whose increased expression has been linked with cancer cell migration, proliferation, and survival.