Bristol-Myers offers a positive snapshot on early data for an IDO1 rival to Incyte

WASHINGTON, DC — While Incyte and the founders of Flexus scrap in court over who owns the IDO1 technology that Bristol-Myers Squibb $BMY bought in a $1.25 billion deal a couple of years ago, Bristol-Myers is ready to start putting the early-stage data from a combination study with Opdivo on display.

Today at the SITC meeting, investigators say their ongoing Phase I/II study of the checkpoint drug Opdivo plus BMS-986205 produced some varying positive results for heavily pre-treated bladder (25 cases) and cervical cancer patients (22 patients).

Bottom line:

— In the bladder cancer cohort, the objective response rate and disease control rate were 32% and 44%, respectively.

— In the cervical cancer cohort, the ORR was 14% and DCR was 64%.

PD-L1 expression mattered. Zeroing in on patients who express PD-L1 more than 1%, ORR was 46% and 25% in the bladder and cervical cancer groups, respectively, while for patients who express PD-L1 less than 1%, ORR was 22% in the bladder cancer cohort with no responses observed in cervical cancer patients.

In a court case filed in Delaware, Incyte claimed that Jordan Fridman, a scientist in its ranks, had systematically lifted its IDO1 secrets before making his way to Flexus, which subsequently accepted a jaw-dropping buyout offer from Bristol-Myers. The lawsuit filed against Flexus founders Terry Rosen and Juan Jean seeks more than a billion dollars in damages.

Incyte $INCY has the most advanced IDO1 in the clinic — epacadostat — and is clearly intent on defending its IP turf. Bristol-Myers, meanwhile, is placing a heavy emphasis on moving as fast as possible on the IDO1 front as it pushes ahead with its big checkpoint therapy and combos around it.

Bristol-Myers IDO development lead Mark Rutstein noted:

We are urgently pursuing transformative research to better understand tumor evasion mechanisms to help inform potential new treatment options for patients with advanced cancers. BMS-986205 has shown encouraging characteristics, including potent and selective inhibition of IDO1, as well as pharmacokinetic data that support once-daily dosing. We look forward to additional data from this study.

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