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BMS, Nektar Ink Up-to-$3.6B Immuno-Oncology Combination Therapy Collaboration

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will partner with Nektar Therapeutics on a combination cancer immunotherapy collaboration that could generate up to $3.6 billion-plus for Nektar—potentially the second-most-valuable immuno-onoclogy partnership ever launched.

The companies agreed to co-develop Nektar’s lead immuno-oncology program NKTR-214 in combination with BMS’ marketed cancer immunotherapy Opdivo® (nivolumab), as well as a combination of NKTR-214 with both Opdivo and BMS’ other marketed cancer immunotherapy blockbuster drug, Yervoy® (ipilimumab), in more than 20 indications across nine tumor types.

Those tumor types include melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, non-small-cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer. Pivotal studies in renal cell carcinoma and melanoma are expected to be initiated in mid-2018, the companies said.

BMS and Nektar said they also agreed to study additional combination therapies with other anticancer agents originating from either company, and/or third parties.

“With this commitment to the development of NKTR-214, an investigational therapy designed with a unique approach to harnessing the full potential of the interleukin-2 pathway, we now have a third validated immuno-onoclogy mechanism that has demonstrated a clinical benefit in patients, and holds significant potential to expand the benefits that these immuno-oncology agents can bring to patients with cancer,” BMS chairman and CEO Giovanni Caforio, M.D., said in a statement.

The partnership holds potential as the second-most-valuable collaboration launched in immuno-oncology, surpassing the previous number-two deal announced last year, which also involved BMS. The pharma giant and CytomX expanded a 2014 alliance by agreeing to discover up to eight additional targets—six oncology targets, two nononcology—using CytomX’s Probody™ drug discovery platform. The oncology portion could generate up to $2.888 billion for CytomX, including $200 million upfront.

The top immuno-onocology collaboration, as ranked by GEN last year, remains the €5.78 billion ($7.1 billion) partnership by Merck & Co. and Ablynx, launched in 2014 and expanded in 2015 to include discovery and development of up to 12 additional cancer drugs based on single-domain antibody fragments, or Nanobodies®

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