Bristol-Myers boosts I-O offering with new Ono drug deal

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Bristol-Myers Squibb has licensed a phase 1 immuno-oncology drug from Japan’s Ono in a $40 million upfront pact.

This geographically complex deal, which builds on a collab the pair have had for a number of years now, sees Bristol-Myers solely responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of ONO-4578, Ono’s selective Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) receptor 4 (EP4) antagonist. This program is aimed at targeting immuno-suppressive factors in the tumor microenvironment.

It also includes other PGE2 receptor antagonist products in all countries of the world except Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

Under the deal, Osaka-based Ono can—on top of the $40 million—look forward to unspecified biobucks in the form of clinical, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments, as well as royalties in these countries where BMS has exclusive license.

In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Bristol and Ono will partner on the development and commercialization under the companies’ existing collaboration agreement, while in China and ASEAN countries, Ono will retain exclusive rights. The focus of development appears to be across a range of tumors, as BMS says that this med: “Strengthens Bristol-Myers Squibb’s oncology development program with potential to expand and enhance the benefit of immunotherapy in a broad range of tumor indications.”

“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, M.D., head of development, oncology, at BMS.

“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.”

Bristol has been ramping up the deals in recent years, with much spent on Padlock and Flexus, and just a few months back, BMS struck a potential multibillion biobucks deal for IFM Therapeutics and its new immuno-oncology approaches, including its preclinical STING (stimulator of interferon genes) and NLRP3 agonist programs, both focused on enhancing the innate immune response for treating cancer.

This comes as BMS is looking to boost its own early-stage I-O pipeline, and its major immuno-oncology drug Opdivo (nivolumab) has suffered trial setbacks in the past year (although rivals Merck, AstraZeneca and Roche have also been beset in recent months).

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Bristol-Myers Squibb on ONO-4578, an innovative Immuno-Oncology therapy candidate derived from our long-standing Prostaglandin projects, and to further work with Bristol-Myers Squibb on other Prostaglandin E2 receptor antagonist programs,” added Hiroshi Awata, VP and executive director, clinical development, at Ono.

“We are committed to further pursuing the worldwide development of ONO-4578 with Bristol-Myers Squibb with the goal of improving outcomes of patients suffering from cancer around the world as promptly as possible.”

Ono, too, has been doing tie-ups, and last year struck a $300 million deal with Celyad for the rights to its allogeneic NKR-2 T-cell immunotherapy in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

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