BMS to develop immuno-oncology therapies with Five Prime

Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed a deal with San Francisco-based Five Prime Therapeutics to develop immuno-oncology therapies.

The pharma company is already in a commanding position within the emerging field of immuno-oncology therapies, and wants to consolidate that position through its partnership with Five Prime.

BMS has nivolumab in phase III trials, and the drug is one of a new class of immunotherapies called anti-PD-1 therapies which have been tipped to transform the treatment of cancer.

The partners will use Five Prime’s proprietary discovery platform in order to develop drugs to target two specific (but undisclosed) immune checkpoint pathways which they believe could hold the key to blocking cancer.

In addition, BMS will also use Five Prime’s platform to advance its existing immuno-oncology programmes by identifying the most viable drug targets for continued research and development. Drug candidates developed against these new and existing targets may be studied either as single agents or in combination with existing or potential Bristol-Myers Squibb immuno-oncology therapies.

“Immuno-oncology has the potential to be transformational in the treatment of cancer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb has an extensive clinical pipeline and discovery programs dedicated to maximising this field of research,” said Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Five Prime’s innovative technology platforms complement our immuno-oncology pipeline and will help expand our understanding of promising new therapeutic options for patients.”

“We are thrilled to enter this important collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, an undisputed leader in the exciting field of immuno-oncology,” said Lewis T. “Rusty” Williams, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Five Prime. “This strategic alliance is evidence that our protein discovery platform is ideally suited to identify novel immune checkpoint targets for the development of next generation immuno-oncology therapeutics.”

BMS will obtain exclusive, worldwide rights to products directed toward certain protein targets identified in the collaboration. Bristol-Myers Squibb will make an upfront payment of $20 million to Five Prime and provide up to $9.5 million in research funding over the course of the research term. BMS will also make a payment of approximately $21 million to acquire 4.9% of Five Prime’s outstanding common stock purchased at approximately a 30% premium. Five Prime will be eligible to receive up to $300 million in future development, regulatory and sales based milestone payments per collaboration target and tiered mid-single-digit rising to low-double-digit royalty payments on net sales of each product launched by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Five Prime’s platform

Five Prime has built up a comprehensive library of human extracellular proteins and uses its proprietary high-throughput screening technologies to produce new targets for protein therapeutics. The biotech firm currently has two candidates in clinical testing and a third set to enter the clinic by the end of 2014. FP-1039 (GSK3052230) is a fibroblast growth factor (FGF) ligand trap being developed in collaboration with GSK to treat multiple solid tumours. A second drug candidate is FPA008, an antibody that inhibits colony stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF1R) activation and is being developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is in a Phase 1 trial currently enrolling. Finally, FPA144 is an antibody that blocks signalling through fibroblast growth factor receptor 2b (FGFR2b) and is glyco-engineered for enhanced antibody-dependent cytotoxicity. FPA144 is expected to begin a Phase 1 study in gastric cancer by the end of 2014.

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