Bristol-Myers Squibb, CytomX pen expanded $3.6B biobucks research deal

The deal hones in on Probody therapeutics, which are designed to take advantage of conditions in the tumor microenvironment to enhance the tumor-targeting features of an antibody.

Fierce 15 winner CytomX is in line for a $200 million upfront payday and potentially billions in biobucks from partner Bristol-Myers Squibb as the Big Pharma signs an updated deal on eight additional targets using CytomX’s Probody platform.

This builds on the 2014 deal between the pair, and hones in on Probody therapeutics, which are designed to take advantage of conditions in the tumor microenvironment to enhance the tumor-targeting features of an antibody, all the while reducing its impact on healthy tissues, and thus adverse events. It can also be used in nononcology targets.

Three years ago, Bristol-Myers selected four oncology candidates, including a CTLA-4, which is now in IND-enabling studies, with the other 3 in the lead discovery and optimization phase. This pact was worth $50 million upfront and $1.6 billion in biobucks.

Under the new deal, BMS gets exclusive, global rights to develop and sell Probody therapeutics for up to six additional oncology targets, as well as two others outside of cancer.

CytomX gets $200 million upfront, as well as research funding, and can also look forward to $448 million in biobucks for each target, as well as tiered royalties, which could all be worth $3.6 billion in total (although this would require everything going exactly to plan).

A spokesperson for the biotech said: “With this expansion and substantial influx of new capital, CytomX also receives a boost in validation among the immuno-oncology space and further its reputation as a partner of choice. In addition, it can dramatically extend its runway to move its lead PD-L1 targeted Probody through ongoing clinical studies and multiple other programs into the clinic in the years to come.

“This news brings tremendous validation to CytomX’s platform and shows the emphasis that BMS places on thinking about the next generation of immuno-oncology.”

“CytomX’s Probody platform has enhanced our discovery research as we seek to direct the therapeutic effects of immunotherapy in a more targeted approach against tumors,” said Carl Decicco, Ph.D., head of discovery at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“We look forward to working more extensively with CytomX on this innovative and potentially disruptive approach in oncology as well as other disease areas.”

“This expanded collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb gives CytomX the opportunity to further the reach of our potentially transformational Probody technology and provides us with additional financial and strategic flexibility to build our company,” added Sean McCarthy, D.Phil., president and CEO at the biotech.

“With CX-072 in phase 1/2, and CX-2009 approaching clinical studies, our broad wholly-owned pipeline is poised for initial proof of concept as we aim to reinvent therapeutic antibodies.”

The biotech’s shares jumped 28% premarket on the news.