Molecular Templates Forges Cancer Deal with BMS Worth up to $1.3 Billion
Texas-based Molecular Templates (MTEM) and Bristol Myers Squibb forged a strategic research collaboration worth a potential $1.3 billion to discover and develop multiple oncology therapies using a next-generation engineered toxin body (ETB) platform.
The ETB technology platform was developed by Molecular Templates. ETBs represent a new class of targeted therapeutics that act through differentiated mechanisms of actions including the ability to force receptor internalization, deliver therapeutic payloads, and directly kill targeted cells through the enzymatic inactivation of ribosomes, the company said.
Both BMS and Molecular Templates hope they will be able to discover new molecules with the ETB platform. According to MTEM, ETBs use a genetically engineered form of Shiga-like Toxin A subunit, or SLTA, a ribosome inactivating bacterial protein, that can be targeted to specifically destroy cancer cells.
Eric Poma, chief executive and scientific officer for Molecular Templates, touted the partnership with BMS and its strong oncology franchise.
“MTEM is excited to be working with Bristol Myers Squibb to focus on discovering and developing new ETBs against promising oncology targets. This collaboration provides further validation of our ETB platform while we continue to advance our wholly-owned product pipeline to offer promising therapeutic options for patients,” Poma said in a statement.
Under terms of the agreement, Molecular Template will undertake research responsibilities for the discovery of next-generation ETBs for multiple targets. BMS has already selected a target, but that was not disclosed by the companies in the announcement. If the ETBs are promising, BMS will have the option to develop and commercialize the assets.
BMS will make an up-front payment of $70 million to MTEM. As the project moves forward, and other targets are selected, Molecular Templates could receive up to $1.3 billion in milestone payments. The company would also receive tiered royalty payments on future sales.
Shares of MTEM jumped more than 24% on Thursday following the announcement of the collaboration. Share prices slipped some Friday morning, but are climbing again. The stock was up 1.5% as of 10 a.m.
Outside of its deal with BMS, in January, MTEM announced dosing would begin in the second quarter of this year in a newly-approved Phase I study of MT-6402, a next-generation ETB targeting PD-L1 that is enabled with MTEM’s antigen seeding technology (AST). ETBs enabled with AST have dual mechanisms of action that include the enzymatic destruction of ribosomes and the delivery of viral class I antigens into the targeted tumor to be processed and presented on its cell surface to induce an antigen-specific immune response, the company said. In preclinical studies, MT-6402 was found to specifically bind and kill both tumor and immune PD-L1 expressing cells.