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BMS finds a new immunotherapy partner with $12m Compugen deal

Combination with novel antibody targeting PVRIG pathway

Compugen

Bristol Myers Squibb is continuing its tireless search for the perfect immunotherapy combination, today announcing a new $12m deal with Compugen.

The Israel-based company’s lead candidate COM701 is a first-in-class cancer immunotherapy (IO) antibody targeting PVRIG, a novel immune checkpoint identified by Compugen’s computational discovery capabilities.

Compugen says COM701 preclinical data suggest the newly-discovered PVRIG pathway may be a dominant pathway in certain cancer subpopulations, including those that are unresponsive to PD‑1 or PDL-1 inhibitors.

It launched phase 1 open label trials of the drug in solid tumours in September, but has now signed a deal with BMS to study it in combination with Opdivo.

BMS are looking for an IO combination which could help it regain its lead in the field, which it yielded to Merck and its PD-1 drug Keytruda earlier this year, thanks to the latter’s dominance in lung cancer.

The deal will see BMS invest $12m in Compugen comprised of 2.4 million shares at a 33% premium to its trading price.

Compugen will sponsor the ongoing two-part phase 1 trial, which includes the evaluation of the combination of COM701 and Opdivo  in four tumour types, including non-small cell lung, ovarian, breast and endometrial cancer.

The collaboration is also designed to address potential future combinations, including trials sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb to investigate combined inhibition of checkpoint mechanisms, such as PVRIG and TIGIT.

Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., President and CEO of Compugen said her firm was excited to be working with BMS, and said the collaboration could help accelerate the timeline for clinical testing of COM701 as part of other novel combinations.

The new alliance follows a deal between Compugen and AstraZeneca focused on the biotech firm’s bispecific and multispecific antibodies – another much-fancied route to boosting IO outcomes. The AZ deal involved a $10 million upfront and up to $200 million in milestones. 

Compugen also recently received a $7.8m milestone payment from Bayer, after the company began trial of the Compugen-discovered BAY 1905254, the first in another new class, the ILDR2 targeting antibodies.

The deal shows BMS ready to spread big and small bets in IO. In February, it signed a huge $3.6bn deal to pair Nektar's NKTR-214 with Opdivo and its CTLA4 inhibitor Yervoy (ipilimumab) in a host of tumour types.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

12th October 2018

From: Research

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