The oft-cited takeout target, Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI), is doing a little shopping of its own. Yesterday, the biotech licensed an early stage drug candidate from privately held FivePrime Therapeutics.

Human Genome Sciences is ponying up just $50 million up front for FP-1039, which targets fibroblast growth factor, or FGF. The biotech is on the hook for an additional $445 million in future development, regulatory, and commercial milestone if the drug works. If it makes it to market in the U.S., Canada, and the EU, FivePrime is due double-digit percentage royalty payments that increase as Human Genome Sciences sells more.

Vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, has been a typical target for cancer treatment, but there's some evidence that FGF plays a role in tumor growth and maintenance. By going after a different target, FP-1039 might be effective as a combination therapy with drugs that target VEGF: Roche's Avastin, Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) Sutent, or Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals' (Nasdaq: ONXX) Nexavar.

This looks like a good, cheap bet for Human Genome Sciences. With Benlysta approved, it'll have revenue rolling in fairly soon. Human Genome Sciences' cupboards aren't completely bare -- it has four drugs in development and a few more licensed to GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) -- but another shot on goal never hurts.

There's a bit of irony here with Human Genome Sciences licensing drugs. Back in the heydays of genome sequencing, Human Genome Sciences was a $100 stock and few people could have imagined that finding drug candidates would be an issue. Sequencing the human genome was supposed to open the flood gates of drug development. Instead it's more of a small crack.

Does Human Genome Sciences' latest purchase make it less of a takeout target by Glaxo, its partner on Benylsta? Probably not. Even if Glaxo hated the deal, it's relatively small compared with the value of Benlysta, and Glaxo has a separate deal directly with FivePrime so it has familiarity with its potential new partner.

Of course, the $5 billion question still remains whether Glaxo is interested.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.