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BMS signs Opdivo combination pact with Kyowa Hakko Kirin 

Rounds off a week of deals in the immunotherapy space for big pharma

BMS HQBristol-Myers Squibb has signed an early-stage research deal with Japanese firm Kyowa Hakko Kirin to create a new combination therapy with its cancer immunotherapy Opdivo (nivolumab). 

The collaboration will see the two firms conduct a phase I/II combination study with KHK's mogamulizumab, an anti-CCR4 antibody and Opdivo, BMS's PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, which has been recently approved for melanoma and lung cancer.

The study, which will be conducted in the US, will focus on evaluating the safety, tolerability and anti-tumour properties of the drugs for patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumours. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mogamulizumab is currently only available in Japan for the treatment of patients with a number different types of blood cancer, where it is known under the brand name Poteligeo. 

Its Japanese licences include: relapsed or refractory CCR4-positive adult T-cell leukaemia-lymphoma (ATL); relapsed or refractory CCR4-positive, peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL); cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), and chemotherapy-native CCR4-positive ATL.

Prior to this agreement, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement to study the combination of mogamulizumab and Opdivo in Japan. Ono is also a co-development partner with BMS for Opdivo. 

Yoichi Sato, director of the board managing executive officer, VP and head of research and development division of Kyowa Hakko Kirin, said: “We are pleased to conduct a combination study with Bristol-Myers Squibb not only in Japan but also in the US. 

“We believe that the planned combination of these two immunotherapies has the potential to deliver better outcomes in patients with advanced cancers than existing treatments."

Mogamulizumab and Opdivo are part of a new class of cancer treatments known as immunotherapies, which are designed to harness the body's own immune system in fighting cancer by targeting distinct regulatory components of the immune system.

The deal comes of the back of a spate of tie-ups in the cancer immunotherapy space in recent weeks, including deals for Sanofi, Lilly and BMS's main rival in the PD-1 space Merck & Co. 

It also comes as BMS released its latest financial results for the second quarter, which showed that Opdivo brought in $122m. 

Article by
Ben Adams

30th July 2015

From: Research

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