Partnering News: BMS, Lilly, Moderna & More
A roundup of bio/pharmaceutical partnering news from Bristol-Myers Squibb/Nektar Therapeutics, Lilly/Telix Pharmaceuticals, Moderna/IAVI, and BioNTech/Matinas BioPharma.
BMS, Nektar End Cancer Drug Pact
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Nektar Therapeutics, a San Francisco, California-based biopharmaceutical company, jointly decided to end the global clinical development program for Nektar’s lead immuno-oncology candidate, bempegaldesleukin, in combination with Bristol-Myer Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab).
The decision follows results from two late-stage clinical studies in renal cell carcinoma and bladder cancer.
Lilly Licensing Cancer Drug to Telix in $230-M Deal
Telix Pharmaceuticals, a Melbourne, Australia-based clinical-stage bio/pharmaceutical company, has entered into a $230-million license agreement with Eli Lilly and Company under which Telix is granted exclusive global rights to develop and commercialize radiolabeled forms of Lilly’s olaratumab antibody for the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers. Telix’s initial development focus will be on a rare type of cancer, soft tissue sarcoma (STS).
Olaratumab was originally developed by Lilly as a (non-radiolabeled) monoclonal antibody targeting platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα). PDGFRα is expressed in multiple tumor types including STS. The exclusive worldwide license will allow Telix to repurpose olaratumab as a targeting agent for radiopharmaceutical imaging and therapy of cancer.
Under the agreement, Telix will pay Lilly an upfront payment of $5 million for the grant of an exclusive license to Lilly’s intellectual property related to the development of a radiolabeled olaratumab, as well as access to material for use by Telix in initial preclinical and early-phase clinical studies in application to potential uses for the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers.
Lilly may be eligible for up to $225 million in payments based upon the achievement of pre-specified development, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Lilly would also be eligible to receive industry standard royalties on net sales. The agreement also includes an option for Lilly to be granted an exclusive license to a radiolabeled companion diagnostic, which would be developed by Telix. If exercised, Lilly will pay Telix $5 million and up to $30 million in potential development milestones, as well as industry standard royalties.
Source: Telix Pharmaceuticals
Moderna, IAVI in mRNA Global Health Research Pact
Moderna and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a nonprofit scientific research organization, have entered into a new collaboration to use mRNA technology to address a range of global health threats, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), antimicrobial-resistant enteric infections, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The collaboration combines Moderna’s mRNA platform and IAVI’s expertise in discovery and product development to advance vaccines and antibodies designed to be globally accessible, especially in low-income countries where the targeted diseases have high incidence and prevalence.
Within the partnership, the program furthest along in development is a Phase I clinical trial of HIV vaccine antigens being delivered by mRNA. The trial was initiated in January 2022 and is testing vaccine antigens that were originally developed as proteins. According to the companies, this trial, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, represents the first time mRNA for HIV vaccines is evaluated in humans. Another Phase I trial is expected to begin this year (2022) in South Africa and Rwanda.
The other joint IAVI/Moderna programs for TB vaccine candidates and antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, HIV, and enteric pathogens are in preclinical development.
BioNTech, Matinas BioPharma in mRNA Vaccine Delivery Pact
BioNTech, a Mainz, Germany-based immunotherapy company, and Matinas BioPharma, a Bedminster, New Jersey-based bio/pharmaceutical company focused on the intracellular delivery of nucleic acids and small molecules with its lipid nanocrystal (LNC) platform technology, have entered into an exclusive research collaboration to evaluate the combination of mRNA formats and Matinas’ LNC platform technology.
The companies say they will collaborate on formulation, optimization, and in vitro testing. Under the agreement, Matinas will receive an upfront access fee to work exclusively with BioNTech, as well as additional research funding from BioNTech. The companies have also commenced discussions on a license agreement for Matinas’ LNC platform technology.