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Exelixis Acquires Artemis in Effort to Broaden Knock-Out Technology Expertise

NEW YORK, April 23 – Knockout-mouse company Exelixis has agreed to acquire Germany’s Artemis Pharmaceuticals, in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at more than $24 million, the companies said Monday.

"The industry has come to realize the power of identifying and validating targets in living organisms where complex functional relationships that are too complicated or unexpected to predict by other methods can be identified,” George Scangos, Exelixis CEO, said in a statement.

“This has been Exelixis' approach from the beginning, and the proprietary vertebrate systems and tools developed at Artemis over the past two years are an important complement to the core Exelixis technologies,” he said.

Artemis uses vertebrate model organisms, including mice and zebrafish, in the drug discovery process.

Exelixis of South San Francisco, Calif., founded Artemis in Cologne in 1998 to expand its vertebrate model system technology. Christiane N sslein-Volhard, a 1995 Nobel Prize winner from the Max-Planck Institute who pioneered the use of the zebrafish in the early 1990's as a model organism for studying the genetics of vertebrate development, was a scientific founder of the company.

The acquisition of Artemis will result in a single biopharmaceutical company with an array of biological systems and other tools for target identification and validation, Exelixis said..

"We believe that the mouse and zebrafish systems provide a new avenue for rational development of superior predictive pharmacology and toxicology models, in addition to their utility as disease models," Scangos said.

Under the terms of the deal, Exelixis will issue 2,081,660 shares of common stock in exchange for the outstanding capital of Artemis that it does not currently own.

Shares of Exelixis, which did not disclose the size of its stake in Artemis prior to the acquisition, closed down 43 cents, or 3.6 percent, at $11.55 on Monday. The deal was announced after the close of trading.

Exelixis will also issue rights to Artemis employees to buy approximately 187,000 shares of Exelixis common stock in exchange for outstanding vested employee rights in Artemis share capital.

Artemis will operate as a German-based subsidiary, and Peter Stadler will remain the managing director of Artemis.

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