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BMS pays $475m for Dragonfly’s IL-12 immunotherapy programme

Agreement will focus on development in oncology and haematology

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has inked a deal with Dragonfly Therapeutic for an exclusive license to its interleukin-12 immunotherapy programme.

BMS will pay Dragonfly $245m upfront, with the further payments contingent on performance-based development, regulatory and commercial milestones. Dragonfly will also receive up to 24% in royalties on worldwide net sales.

The main focus of the agreement is Dragonfly’s investigational drug DF6002, a monovalent IL-12 immunoglobulin Fc fusion protein.

The drug, which creates an inflammatory tumour microenvironment to encourage anti-tumour responses, is currently in a phase 1/2 clinical trial for patients with advanced solid tumours. BMS plans to advance the research and development of DF6002 in oncology and haematology.

In May, Dragonfly received investigational new drug approval for DF6002 from the US Food and Drug Administration. As well as testing the drug as a mono therapy, Dragonfly is also studying DF6002 in combination with PD-1 inhibiting treatment, such as BMS’ Opdivo (nivolumab).

IL-12 is pivotal to the maintenance of the immune system and is a T cell-stimulating factor, which can stimulate the growth and function of T cells. It also plays an important role in the activities of natural killer cells (NK cells) and T lymphocytes.

BMS and Dragonfly are betting on DF6002’s ability to activate innate NK cells and adaptive immunities to reduce cancer growth and kill cancer cells.

So far, IL-12 as a target in immunotherapy has not gone beyond the hypothetical, as overproduction of IL-12 cytokines is also indicated in a number of inflammatory and autoimmune disease, including psoriasis and arthritis.

“As we continue to expand our focus in oncology, we are pleased to be adding an IL-12 Fc-fusion protein to our oncology pipeline in the form of DF6002,” said Rupert Vessey, executive vice president and president, research & early development at BMS.

“We look forward to our continued work with Dragonfly to further guide the programme’s clinical data at this pivotal point in its development, as we continue to deliver on our commitment to serve more patients with cancer,” he added.

In 2018, Dragonfly signed a deal with Merck/MSD worth almost $700m focusing on solid tumour targets. Dragonfly also signed a deal with Celgene, now owned by BMS, in 2017 and 2018 for a series of candidates focused on the treatment of blood cancers.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

18th August 2020

From: Sales

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