A 'killer' combination

BMS, Innate Pharma collaborate on NK cell-activating antibody

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PRINCETON, N.J.—Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) and biopharmaceutical company Innate Pharma SA have teamed up in a global agreement focused on the development and commercialization of IPH2102, a novel antibody from Innate Pharma currently in Phase I development as a cancer treatment. The collaboration is the first such partnership between the two companies.
Per the terms of the agreement, BMS will gain exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize IPH2102 and related compounds blocking KIR receptors. Innate Pharma will continue developing IPH2102 in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) through to the end of Phase II, in addition to providing preclinical support for its development. BMS will fund the development of IPH2102 with an upfront payment of $35 million, as well as additional payments of up to $430 million, dependent upon the achievement of certain development and commercialization milestones. BMS will also pay pre-specified, tiered double-digit royalties on worldwide net sales. The agreement covers all potential indications for the compound.
"We are very excited to have partnered IPH2102 with Bristol-Myers Squibb, who we believe is the best partner for Innate," says Hervé Brailly, CEO of Innate Pharma. "Not only is BMS a global leader in the oncology market, but also has direct experience in this area with USA- and EU-approved Yervoy, another antibody product with a similar mode of action to IPH2102. BMS believes strongly in IPH2102, and we very much look forward to working with them closely throughout this collaboration."
The collaboration, which Brailly said in a press release is "the largest biotech licensing deal ever signed in France," is one of many that BMS has made lately in keeping with its "String of Pearls" collaboration strategy.
"Bristol-Myers Squibb's String of Pearls strategy seeks to establish collaborations with leading innovator companies across the globe," Mike Seeley, general manager of BMS' France operations, said in a press release about the partnership. "We are excited to establish an important such collaboration in France with Innate Pharma, a pioneer in the field of innate immunity. This collaboration highlights our commitment to France, the French biotech community and to immuno-oncology, an area in which Bristol-Myers Squibb has developed a robust pipeline including ipilimumab."
IPH 2102 is a fully human monoclonal antibody that blocks interaction between killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) on natural killer (NK) cells with their ligands. NK cells are a type of lymphocyte, or white blood cell, and a significant part of the innate immune system that target invaders to the system such as viruses or cancerous cells. NK cells release specific proteins that target infected or cancerous cells and trigger apoptosis, or cell death, within the foreign cells. By blocking the receptors, IPH2102 assists in the activation of the body's NK cells, enabling destruction of tumor cells.
Development of the compound will be focused on a number of cancer indications, and IPH2102 will be considered as both a monotherapy and in combination with other compounds from Innate Pharma's pipeline. Innate Pharma specializes in the development of monoclonal antibodies "targeting receptors and pathways controlling the activation of innate immunity cells," according to the company's website.
"Bristol-Myers Squibb is dedicated to helping patients prevail over cancer," Francis Cuss, senior vice president of research at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said in a press release. "To help us in this mission, we are very pleased to join forces with Innate Pharma, which has developed a deep understanding of the immune system. Working together, we have the opportunity to develop IPH2102, a potential first-in-class biologic that may be able to harness a patient's immune system in the fight against cancer."

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