- Bristol Myers Squibb will pay $90 million to license an experimental cancer drug from BridgeBio Pharma, expanding an earlier collaboration with the biotechnology company that was focused on pairing the drug with Bristol Myers' immunotherapy Opdivo.
- BridgeBio's drug, dubbed BBP-398, is aimed at a protein target called SHP2 that's involved in the development of some cancers. With the deal, which was announced Thursday, Bristol Myers joins a lengthening list of pharmaceutical companies exploring SHP2-targeting drugs as way to treat solid tumors.
- Under the terms of the deal, BridgeBio could receive as much as $805 million more in payments tied to development, regulatory and sales milestones. The biotech will lead three Phase 1 clinical trials of BBP-398 that are currently ongoing, while Bristol Myers will run and fund any future studies.
Novartis, Sanofi, Roche and Merck & Co. are all invested, in one way or another, in SHP2-targeting drugs, and now Bristol Myers is stepping up its involvement as well.
Like its peers, Bristol Myers appears interested in pairing BridgeBio's SHP2 inhibitor with other drugs as a way to increase its efficacy against solid tumors.
"We have seen the potential role SHP2 inhibition could play in unlocking possible combination therapies to treat patients suffering from a range of cancers," said Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers' head of research and early development, in a company statement.
Bristol Myers and BridgeBio are already studying BBP-398 with Opdivo in patients with solid tumors driven to growth by mutations in another gene, called KRAS, that until recently evaded researchers' attempts to target it.
Combination therapies are likely to be important, as initial datasets involving SHP2 inhibitors on their own have disappointed. Results from a study of Novartis' anti-SHP2 drug TNO155, presented at last year's American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, showed zero tumor responses in 118 patients with advanced solid tumors. Data on another drug being developed by Revolution Medicines and Sanofi was similarly lackluster.
One strategy companies are taking is pairing SHP2 inhibitors with drugs that bind to and block KRAS. Roche, for instance, in late 2020 licensed a SHP2 drug from Relay Therapeutics to pair with a KRAS inhibitor it's developing.
BridgeBio is also working with Amgen on studying BBP-398 with that company's drug Lumakras, which in May 2021 became the first approved KRAS inhibitor.
Bristol Myers, however, does not have a KRAS inhibitor listed in its current drug pipeline.
Shares of BridgeBio rose by more than 13% Thursday, while Bristol Myers stock was down about 1% in value. BridgeBio hit a major setback in December when its most advanced drug for a rare disease called transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy failed in testing, spurring layoffs and a restructuring program. Since then, shares have declined by more than 80%.