Cypress Bio Acquires Technologies in Separate Deals with Marina Biotech, Alexza Pharmaceutical

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB), which is trying to keep an unsolicited buyout at bay while executing a dramatic change in its business strategy, says it has acquired rights to two novel therapies.

Earlier this month, Cypress rejected a $160-million buyout offer made in July by the New York-based Ramius Value and Opportunity Advisors—and has refused to meet or negotiate with the group. At roughly the same time, the San Diego biotech laid off 123 employees, or 86 percent of its workforce, in a strategic reorganization that includes withdrawing from its existing commercial business (a fibromyalgia drug and specialized blood tests) and focusing instead on drug development for central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

As part of its new strategy, Cypress is announcing two separate deals today:

—Cypress says it paid $750,000 upfront to acquire technology from Bothell, WA-based Marina Biotech (NASDAQ: MRNAD) for an intranasal formulation of carbetocin, a potential treatment for the core symptoms of autism, in a deal that could be worth as much as $27 million. Cypress says it will fund all continuing carbetocin development and pay “single-digit royalties” to Marina for any commercial sales. In the company’s statement, Cypress CEO Jay Kranzler says, “Given the number of autism cases in children, we believe that the addition of this novel therapy will enable us to address an important unmet medical need.”

—Cypress says it also paid $5 million to license an electronic nicotine delivery technology from Alexza Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ: ALXA) of Mountain View, CA, that helps smokers quit smoking by enabling them to inhale reduced doses of nicotine without smoking cigarettes. Cypress says it also agreed to pay Alexza an additional $1 million technology transfer payment once certain milestones have been met. Alexza also gets 10 percent (subject to certain circumstances) in the net proceeds of any sale or license of its nicotine delivery technology.