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Pharmaceutical provider Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) has agreed to buy Nimbus Apollo Inc. from venture capital-backed Nimbus Therapeuticsfor up to $1.2 billion. Financial deal terms call for Gilead to pay $400 million upfront and up to another $800 million that will be based on the target’s future performance. Nimbus Therapeutics is backed by Atlas Venture, Lilly Ventures and Columbia University chemistry professor Richard Friesner and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates.

Nimbus Apollo is known for its preclinical acetyl-coa carboxylase (ACC) inhibitor program which is designed to potentially treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a form of a liver disease that is affecting about 15 million people in the U.S., according to Foster City, California-based Gilead. Nimbus Therapeutics is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company.

“The acquisition of Nimbus’ ACC-inhibitor program represents a timely and important opportunity to accelerate Gilead’s ongoing efforts to address unmet needs in NASH,” says Gilead’s chief scientific officer, Norbert Bischofberger. Gilead is expected to look for additional acquisitions. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is representing Gilead.

Pharmaceutical companies have been drawing buyer interest lately. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) will acquire Padlock Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on creating medicines that address destructive autoimmune diseases. The Carlyle Group LP has formed Phoenix Therapeutics, a new pharmaceutical company in partnership with health care focused investment bank and consulting firm Bourne Partners. Roche Holding AG (VTX: ROG) has agreed to purchase venture capital-backed biotechnology company Tensha Therapeutics, which has developed a biotechnology product, called Ten-010, that is designed to potentially treat cancer patients and it is currently in clinical trials.

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