Bay Area's CytomX Surges as Bristol-Myers Squibb Signs Up for 8 More Projects With $200 Million Upfront in Deal Totaling $5 Billion

Bay Area's CytomX Surges as Bristol-Myers Squibb Signs Up for 8 More Projects With $200 Million Upfront in Deal Totaling $5 Billion March 20, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – CytomX Therapeutics and Bristol-Myers Squibb are strengthening their relationship with the expansion of a 2014 collaboration agreement. This morning, the companies announced a plan to include up to eight additional targets, six in oncology and two in non-oncology areas, using CytomX’s proprietary Probody platform.

The expanded deal puts a potential of $5 billion worth of new therapeutics on the table. Under terms of the agreement, CytomX will receive an infusion of $200 million in upfront cash and will be eligible to receive up to $448 million in future development, regulatory and sales milestone payments for each collaboration target. The price per target increases even more when tiered royalties are factored into the equation.

Sean McCarthy, CytomX’s chief executive officer, said in a statement that the expanded collaboration with BMS will allow researchers to push further into probody development and provides additional financial security for the Bay Area company.

CytomX’s probody therapeutics are designed to take advantage of unique conditions in the tumor microenvironment to enhance the tumor-targeting features of an antibody and reduce drug activity in healthy tissues, according to company information. Once activated, the probody therapeutics bind selectively to cells within tumor tissue with reduced binding to healthy tissue, potentially improving or creating a therapeutic window, the company said. As part of the ongoing collaboration, BMS has progressed CytomX’s CTLA-4 probody therapeutic to Investigational New Drug-enabling studies. The company has three other programs are in the lead discovery and optimization phase. CTLA-4, a clinically validated inhibitory immune checkpoint protein, is the most advanced target from the companies’ collaboration, which now also includes three additional, unnamed targets in discovery.

The deal with CytomX comes at a time when BMS has been dealing with setbacks of its own regarding PD-L1 therapies. The failure of Opdivo in as a monotherapy for a “broad patient population” in lung cancer in a Phase III trial allowed competitors like Merck to surge ahead with its drug Keytruda. In a statement, Carl Decicco, head of discovery at BMS, touted the CytomX probody platform. He said it has enhanced discovery research and is helping direct “the therapeutic effects of immunotherapy in a more targeted approach against tumors.”

In February, CytomX moved its experimental PD-L1-targeting Probody therapeutic, CX-072, into Phase I/II trials evaluating the therapy as a monotherapy, as well as in combination with BMS’s Yervoy (ipilimumab) or Zelboraf (vemurafenib) in patients with all types of cancers. CX-072 is part of PROCLAIM (Probody Clinical Assessment In Man), an international umbrella clinical trial program that provides clinical trial sites with access to the company’s novel therapies under one central protocol. The Investigational New Drug filing for CX-2009, a first-in-class probody drug conjugate targeting the highly expressed tumor antigen, CD166, is targeted for the first half of 2017.

“With CX-072 in Phase 1/2, and CX-2009 approaching clinical studies, our broad wholly-owned pipeline is poised for initial proof of concept as we aim to reinvent therapeutic antibodies,” McCarthy said in a statement.

In addition to its programs with Bristol-Myers, CytomX also has collaboration deals with AbbVie , Pfizer , MD Anderson Cancer Center and ImmunoGen .

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