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Bristol-Myers Squibb, Biotech in Cancer Drug Discovery Deal

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

17 March 2014. Bristol-Myers Squibb, a pharmaceutical company in New York, and Five Prime Therapeutics in South San Francisco, California are collaborating in discovery of cancer immunotherapies. The deal can be worth as much as $350 million to Five Prime Therapeutics, in which Bristol-Myers Squibb will also get a 5 percent stake.

Five Prime Therapeutics develops treatments for cancer and inflammatory disorders from its library of proteins derived from complementary DNA, synthesized or copied genes extracted from messenger RNA. The company says its protein libraries are able to capture the 5′ or five-prime end of the nucleic acids — referring to the carbon atoms of the sugar in nucleic acid — making them complete and able to generate proteins more similar to those found in nature. The 5′ end, says the company, is difficult to reproduce, and thus often left out of other protein libraries.

Under the deal, Five Prime will screen its protein library for targets identified with two immune checkpoint pathways, mechanisms in the immune system that block or moderate resistance to tumor development. The two specific immune checkpoint pathways were not disclosed. Bristol-Myers Squibb will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize products derived from the targets identified by Five Prime’s screening.

Bristol-Myers Squibb will make an initial payment of $20 million to Five Prime, as well as up to $9.5 million in research support over the course of the collaboration. Five Prime will also be eligible for up $300 million in future  development and regulatory milestones, and tiered royalty payments on net sales of products that result from the partnership.

In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb is acquiring 4.9 percent of Five Prime’s outstanding common stock for $21 million, some 30 percent more than market price.

Other than Bristol-Myers Squibb, Five Prime is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline on solid tumor cancer therapies from fibroblast growth factor, molecules that bind to proteins and regulate cell proliferation and survival. The company has as well its own gastric cancer antibody in preclinical development, and autoimmune disease therapies in early-stage clinical trials.

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Hat tip: Fierce Biotech

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