SAN DIEGO—Biotechnology company Sirenas LLC, which specializes in applying computational approaches in the effort to discover drugs derived from the global microbiome, has secured a big-name partner for its first deal of 2018: Bristol-Myers Squibb. The companies have signed a multi-target research collaboration under which they will apply Sirenas' drug discovery platform against certain undisclosed challenging therapeutic targets.
Though no details were released with regards to specific targets or financials, the agreement dictates that Sirenas and Bristol-Myers Squibb will collaborate on the identification of potential drug candidates, specifically using ATLANTIS, Sirenas' data mining technology, and the company's proprietary chemical library isolated from global microbiome collections. Bristol-Myers Squibb will make an upfront payment of an undisclosed amount to Sirenas to fund research activities and cover potential success fees. In return, Bristol-Myers Squibb will have an option to license compound identified under this collaboration under a separate agreement, which will include potential milestones and royalties for Sirenas.
"We believe science-focused biopharma companies can benefit from our innovative approaches to access breakthrough chemistry in delivering drug candidates for difficult biological targets," Jake Beverage, co-founder and CEO of Sirenas, remarked in a press release. "We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, one of the finest drug discovery teams in the world, to identify potential new therapies to treat the world's highest unmet medical needs."
Sirenas introduced its ATLANTIS technology in September 2015. According to the company, ATLANTIS “uses machine learning and 'big data' approaches to uncover the complex relationships between natural small-molecule metabolites and disease-relevant biological assays. ATLANTIS provides rapid insights into the therapeutic potential, chemical novelty, structure activity relationships and global distribution of each metabolite. This functionality enables the uncovering of therapeutic leads from a previously hidden, rich pool of privileged chemistry that can be leveraged to help tackle the greatest unmet disease needs.” In a nod to the platform's name, most of ATLANTIS' initial application has been in marine life; Sirenas reports on its website that it “has deployed this technology in marine environments to sustainably collect samples of microorganisms and their affiliated commensal microbial communities, providing a rich source of valuable chemical diversity. Through these efforts, Sirenas has amassed a highly curated collection of hundreds of thousands of nature-inspired molecules that can be interrogated for their therapeutic potential.”
Dr. Phil Baran, co-founder of Sirenas, said, "Sirenas has built a remarkably effective platform that combines powerful computational approaches, deep natural product expertise, and state of the art synthesis to rapidly deliver new drug candidates. We are committed to using computational approaches like ATLANTIS with our partners to uncover novel therapies from the profound chemistry hidden in the diversity of nature."
Sirenas received a grant in mid-December from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance its ATLANTIS technology. Including these most recent funds, Sirenas has received a total of $1.68 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over two research grant awards.
In other recent news from Bristol-Myers Squibb, not in drug discovery but in cancer, the company announced Feb. 5 that its Phase 3 CheckMate-227 trial, which is evaluating the combination regimen of Opdivo and Yervoy in first-line non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), met its co-primary endpoint. The combination demonstrated highly statistically significant progression-free survival when compared to chemotherapy in patients with high levels of the biomarker known as tumor mutation burden.