BMS, Avidity add another link to cardiovascular partnership with $100M expansion

Bristol Myers Squibb seems to have found a friend in Avidity Biosciences, as the two add a second link to a heart-focused research partnership for $100 million upfront.

The two companies tied the first deal in 2021, when Avidity announced a research collaboration with BMS-owned MyoKardia. The pact focused on discovering if Avidity’s antibody oligonucleotide conjugates (AOCs), a type of RNA therapeutic, could be used for cardiac tissues.

Fast forward to 2023, and BMS is ready to put more cash on the line to expand the work in cardiovascular targets. Avidity will receive the upfront fee through a $60 million cash payment and a $40 million stock purchase at $7.88 per share. Down the line, the biotech could receive $2.2 billion, including $1.35 billion in R&D milestones and $825 million in commercial milestones, plus royalties on net sales.

The global licensing and research deal involves up to five cardiovascular targets using Avidity’s AOC technology. BMS will take on future clinical development, regulatory and commercialization activities that result from the collaboration.

Avidity’s AOCs combine a monoclonal antibody with oligonucleotide therapies to precisely target disease and expand the use of RNA therapeutics.

Outside of the BMS work, Avidity is advancing its own clinical pipeline of therapies for rare cardiac indications. The deal expansion represents some good news for the biotech, which has spent 2023 trying to free a partial clinical hold on lead muscle wasting disorder drug AOC 1001.

While the FDA eased the clinical hold and allowed a small number of patients to be enrolled in the phase 2 Marina study in May, the partial hold is still in place as of Avidity’s Nov. 8 earnings call. The FDA placed the restriction in September 2022 in light of a serious adverse event.

But Avidity did manage to squeeze some clinical data out of the situation. In October, the biotech presented findings linking AOC 1001 to improvements in functional endpoints for myotonic dystrophy type 1 plus a favorable long-term safety profile.