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Bob Langer biotech lands first big biopharma deal with Amgen

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For the first time BIND Biosciences has found a large drugmaker to commit major money to collaborate on a drug with its nanomedicine platform. Amgen ($AMGN), the world's largest biotech, is joining forces with the startup to combine one of its own kinase inhibitors with a nanotech vehicle from BIND to attack tumors.

The companies aim to create a kinase inhibitor that features unique "triple" targeting, BIND CEO Scott Minick told FierceBiotech. His company, a 2008 Fierce 15 winner, will work on formulating Amgen's unspecified kinase blocker in one of its tiny particles, which can be designed to slip into leaky tumor blood vessels and then home in on specific cancer targets on malignant cells.

So they envision targeting tumor tissue, specific cancer cells and kinases with one compound. At a preclinical stage, the program has a lot to prove. Yet the effort could advance targeted cancer treatment. Novartis' ($NVS) blockbuster Gleevec and other kinase inhibitors have advanced attacks on cancer at the molecular level over the past decade or so, but the compounds have off-target impacts on healthy cells that cause side effects.

Minick explains that BIND's nanomedicines are designed to continue circulating through healthy blood vessels and aggregate in tumor tissues. This could limit side effects on healthy cells while upping the assault on cancerous ones. And its treatments are based on promising nanomedicine technology from the labs of MIT inventor extraordinaire Bob Langer and Omid Farokhzad at Harvard Medical School.

Amgen is committing a "significant" yet undisclosed down payment in the deal and up to $46.5 million in upfront and development milestones, according to BIND, which could also rake in a total of $134 million in regulatory and sales milestones for the first use of the nanomedicine against a mystery solid tumor. The deal boosts Amgen's lineup of experimental cancer drugs and backs up marketed products such as Vectibix, a monoclonal antibody that targets EGFR kinase to treat colon cancer.

Minick expects that his company will land multiple collaboration deals this year.

"My feeling is that we've reached an inflection point," Minick said in an interview during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. "The pharma companies have all been looking at this technology, watching and tracking the data, but have not moved in a big way. I think you are seeing the beginning of what I hope and expect is a trend."

The Amgen pact provides a new source of funding for BIND, which has raised about $76 million since its 2007 launch from a lineup of venture investors that includes ARCH Venture Partners, DHK Investments, Endeavour Vision, Flagship Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners and Rusnano.

- here's the release

Special Reports: BIND Biosciences - Fierce's 5 Drug Delivery Companies to Watch | BIND Biosciences - 2008 Fierce 15

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