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Curis (Cambridge, Massachusetts) has licensed its bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP-7) program to Stryker (Kalamazoo, Michigan), ending a seven-month search to replace former partner Ortho Biotech Products (Bridgewater, New Jersey).

Michael Gray, CFO of Curis, termed Stryker “the ideal partner” to develop and manufacture BMP-7, which he called a “complicated protein.”

Stryker certainly has the experience to get the job done. The company already markets a BMP-7 product used to stimulate bone healing in certain spinal fusion and long-bone procedures. That product, called OP-1, combines recombinant human BMP-7 with a purified Type I collagen carrier.

Stryker gained access to the BMP-7 patents through a 1985 deal with Creative BioMolecules, which later became a part of Curis. But Stryker’s license previously covered the use of BMP-7 only in the repair or regeneration of local musculoskeletal tissue defects and dental defects. Curis initially licensed all other BMP-7 rights to Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho unit.

Under the Ortho deal, Curis received $3.5 million up front and might have gotten up to $30 million in milestone payments if a BMP-7 product had gained FDA approval for the treatment of kidney disease. But the program never made it past preclinical development, and Ortho handed back all rights earlier this year.

Now Stryker is picking up those rights in exchange for $1 million up front and undisclosed clinical, regulatory and sales milestones.

Curis said global commercialization of a BMP-7 product could result in $41 million in payments, $14 million of which would go to a former collaborator of Creative BioMolecules if the product is associated with chronic kidney disease.

Preclinical data thus far indicate that BMP-7 might indeed be applicable in treating conditions associated with chronic kidney disease, such as fibrosis and blood vessel calcification. The signaling protein also has been linked to upkeep of the skeleton and vascular system, and Gray mentioned stroke as another possible indication.

Out-licensing the BMP-7 program leaves Curis free to concentrate on its small molecules, most of which, Gray said, target cancer. Farthest along is a systemic Hedgehog antagonist program, which partner Genentech (South San Francisco) said is slated to begin Phase II solid tumor trials in the first half of next year.

In other dealmaking activity:

• SPX (Charlotte) reported that it completed the acquisition of APV (Getysville, New York) a manufacturer of process equipment and engineered solutions primarily for the sanitary market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The acquisition of APV greatly enhances our process equipment operations serving key markets around the world, particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific,” said Chris Kearney, president/CEO and chairman of SPX.

“With APV’s broad spectrum of proven process solutions, rich heritage of innovation and wealth of engineering expertise, we are better positioned than ever to capitalize on the growing global demand for flow technology products and solutions,” he added.

APV was previously a division of Invensys PLC (London, UK) an international industrial automation, transportation and controls group. APV’s primary products include pumps, valves, heat exchangers and homogenizers for the food, dairy, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

APV will be operated as part of SPX’s flow technology segment.

SPX is focused on providing solutions that support the expansion of global infrastructure, with particular emphasis on the growing worldwide demand for energy and power.

• Grubb & Ellis Healthcare REIT (Santa Ana, California) reported entering into a joint venture with BD St. Louis Development (St. Louis) a subsidiary of Duke Realty (Indianapolis, Indiana) to acquire the Chesterfield Rehabilitation Center (Chesterfield, Missouri).

Grubb & Ellis will maintain an 80% ownership interest in the j-v and act as managing member while Duke Realty holds the remaining 20% interest.

Chesterfield Rehabilitation is a 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital offering rehabilitative services in its Outpatient Physical Therapy and Brain and Spinal Cord Injury departments.

“Demand for healthcare services in this country is growing rapidly, as is demand for quality healthcare facilities,” said Danny Prosky, VP of acquisitions for Grubb & Ellis. “The acquisition ... further strengthens and diversifies the Grubb & Ellis Healthcare REIT, which has rapidly grown to become one of the finest portfolios of healthcare facilities in the nation.”

Grubb & Ellis also reported acquiring Park Place Office Park (Dayton, Ohio), with closing on Dec. 21. Park Place Office Park consists of three multi-tenant medical office buildings totaling about 133,000 square feet on eight-and-a-half acres.

“Park Place is a choice addition to the Grubb & Ellis Healthcare REIT portfolio of properties,” said Prosky. “We have superior tenants in place and have further diversified and strengthened our portfolio with this acquisition.”

As of Dec. 14, Grubb & Ellis said it has sold nearly 20.4 million shares of its common stock, excluding the shares issued under its distribution reinvestment plan, for more than $203 million through its initial public offering, which began in 3Q06.

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