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BMS and Janssen to assess PD1 cancer combination

Will test Opdivo and Imbruvica in non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Janssen Imbruvica iibrutinib

Janssen's Imbruvica (ibrutinib) is approved in the US to treat chromic lymphocytic leukaemia and mantle cell lymphoma

The potential for anti-PD1 cancer immunotherapies continues to grow with the announcement of another trial to test a combination treatment.

On this occasion Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has teamed up with partners Janssen and Pharmacyclics to evaluate a combination of the PD1 drug Opdivo (nivolumab) and the oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor Imbruvica (ibrutinib) in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

BMS' Opdivo is one of the leading anti-PD1 drugs, which work by binding to the checkpoint receptor PD1 expressed on activated T-cells to encourage the body's immune system to target cancerous cells.

Opdivo was approved as a melanoma treatment in Japan in the summer and is currently under review in a similar indication in both the US and Europe.

As with other anti-PD1 drugs - such as Merck & Co's FDA-approved Keytruda (ipilimumab) – hopes are high for Opdivo as both a monotherapy and in combination with existing cancer treatments that target tumours in different ways.

BMS has already signed agreements with several other companies to test Opdivo combinations. This includes a research collaboration with Celgene to test the drug in combination with Celgene's cancer drug Abraxane (paclitaxel) across multiple cancers and another deal agreed last week with Novartis to evaluate Opdivo in combination with several investigational drugs in lung cancer.

The latest deal with Janssen and Pharmacyclics further boosts the prospects of Opdivo, as well as Imbruvica, which is emerging as one of Janssen's key cancer prospects with US approvals in chromic lymphocytic leukaemia and mantle cell lymphoma and a recommendation for approval in the EU.

Janssen will conduct the phase I/II study to assess the safety and anti-tumour activity of the combination.

BMS' main competitor in the PD1 race Merck & Co also has collaborations in progress, including research partnerships with Advaxis, Pfizer, Amgen and Incyte.

Article by
Thomas Meek

14th October 2014

From: Research

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