Bristol-Myers Squibb $BMY has inked a licensing deal with longtime partner Ono Pharmaceutical to develop multiple tumor-fighting programs.
BMS is paying $40 million upfront, and in return gets to develop, manufacture, and commercialize ONO-4578 globally except in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.
ONO-4578 is Ono’s Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) receptor 4 (EP4) antagonist. Researchers say that PGE2 suppresses tumor immunity and promotes tumor growth, and preclinical data suggest its modulation may complement anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 therapies — which would make it a good fit for Opdivo and Yervoy.
The drug is in Phase I trials in Japan.
The companies will also collaborate on discovery efforts to identify additional compounds from Ono’s PGE2 receptor antagonist programs.
BMS and Ono go way back, forging a collaboration in 2011 that allowed BMS to develop and commercialize Opdivo globally except in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Opdivo became the first PD-1 inhibitor to reach the market.
“To improve long-term outcomes for more patients with cancer, we believe more immuno-oncology-based combinations may be required, and we are pleased to continue our long-standing collaboration with Ono with this focus in mind,” said Fouad Namouni, head of development, oncology at BMS, in a statement. “Ono’s Prostaglandin E2 receptor antagonist programs offer the potential to develop targeted therapies that counteract the effects of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Researching Prostaglandin E2 receptor antagonists in combination with our oncology portfolio has the potential to result in an enhanced response in a broad range of tumors.”
As part of the deal, Ono could get clinical, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments, as well as royalties in the countries where BMS has exclusive license.
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