- In its pursuit for dominance in the immuno-oncology space, Bristol-Myers Squibb has inked yet another deal, this time for exclusive rights to a pre-clinical drug from PsiOxus Therapeutics.
- Bristol-Myers announced the deal on Tuesday, giving PsiOxus $50 million upfront with potential for $886 million in milestone payments. PsiOxus could also receive royalties should the drug make it to market.
- The drug in question is NG-348, an oncolytic virus therapy meant to target solid tumors. Such therapies work by injecting patients with a virus that only multiplies inside cancerous cells. The buildup of the virus triggers a response from the body's immune system, which then attacks and kills the mutated cells.
Between Bristol-Myers' full court press in immuno-oncology and its clear interest in PsiOxus' pipeline — the companies entered into another agreement in late June to study a different PsiOxus oncolytic virus, enadenotucirev — this newest deal is unsurprising.
“We are excited to bring our deep expertise in immuno-oncology to the continued development of NG-348 and to better understand the potential role of oncolytic viruses in enhancing checkpoint blockade in multiple types of cancer in the tumor microenvironment," said Fouad Namouni, head of Bristol-Myers' oncology development, in a Dec. 20 statement.
Bristol-Myers has been focused in its pursuit to reshape its business around cancer therapies, with dealmaking serving as a vital tool to that end. Last year, the company entered a $1.75 billion immuno-oncology collaboration with Five Prime. And earlier this year, the big biopharma inked deals with Cormorant Pharma and Enterome for $95 million and $15 million upfront, respectively.
Neither company shed any light on how the new collaboration would affect the one locked down in the summer. Under that earlier agreement, Bristol-Myers offered $10 million upfront to study enadenotucirev in combination with Opdivo (nivolumab). The deal also gave Bristol-Myers exclusive commercial rights to enadenotucirev, though the rights had an unspecified cutoff date.
When that deal was signed, Bristol-Myers looked set to run away with an early lead in immuno-oncology. Sales of Opdivo had rapidly outpaced Merck's rival Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Opdivo was approved for more indications. But a costly setback in first-line non-small cell lung cancer has opened the door for Merck and Roche to catch up, likely crimping Opdivo's early advantage.