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GSK acquires Sirtris for $720 million


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. GlaxoSmithKline has joined the list of many pharmaceutical giants who have bought biotech companies in hopes of bolstering their pipelines. According to published reports, GSK paid $720 million for Sirtris Pharmaceuticals.

Other sales that have occurred recently are Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ acquisition of Millennium Pharmaceuticals for almost $9 billion, Pfizer’s deal to buy Coley Pharmaceuticals for $164 million and Bristol-Myers Squibbs’ purchase of Adnexus Therapeutics for $430 million.

GSK says it plans to continue to operate Sirtris as an independent drug discovery unit, with chief executive Christoph Westphal and the rest of the management team at the helm. And Westphal said he plans to stick with the company for the long term, despite his history of starting one venture after another, like with Alnylam and Momenta Pharmaceuticals.

What makes the acquisition so intriguing is the top drug that Sirtris is working on, a so-called fountain of youth drug. According to the company, resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, might be able to stimulate enzymes called sirtuins that appear to play a key role in aging. The compound is also being used in a reformulated state to treat Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

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