With Northern Biologics deal, Boehringer adds pair of hot topics to its immuno-oncology basket

Boehringer’s deal with Northern Biologics puts the tumor stroma in the spotlight

Boehringer is showing itself to be a stealthy but serious player in cutting-edge science with the latest in a series of early-stage deals that come with little notice and plant a flag in an important but sparsely populated area of biology. The May 14 acquisition of Versant Ventures-built Northern Biologics Inc. gives the pharma an anchor in the tumor stroma, fitting into a five-year initiative to build its immuno-oncology pipeline.

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH’s takeout of the Northern Biologics subsidiary of Northern L.P., brings the pharma a pair of preclinical immuno-oncology programs that address the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment: one involving the stromal protein periostin -- an unexploited target in cancer -- and one that activates a subset of myeloid cells, another hot topic. The mechanism and target of the latter are undisclosed.

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