Bristol-Myers' Opdivo and Janssen PhI candidate to be combined in lung cancer

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) is really racking up the cancer pacts as today it pens another deal for its PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab)--this time to be used with an early-stage experimental drug from Johnson & Johnson’s ($JNJ) biotech unit Janssen.

BMS will combine its blockbuster drug, which has licenses in melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with Janssen’s Phase I live attenuated double–deleted (LADD) Listeria monocytogenes cancer immunotherapy, expressing mesothelin and EGFRvIII.

The antigen-presentation treatment, known as JNJ-64041757, will be used alongside Opdivo in a Phase II NSCLC trial.

Opdivo works by taking the brakes off the human immune system to help it fight cancer, while Janssen’s candidate is designed to induce the local recruitment and activation of innate and adaptive effector cells and expansion of mesothelin-specific T cells. JNJ-64041757 is currently in Phase I for NSCLC.

“We are excited to collaborate with Janssen as we explore how the emerging science of antigen-presentation therapeutics, in combination with Opdivo, can potentially provide a new treatment approach for patients with lung cancer,” said Dr. Jean Viallet, global clinical research lead in oncology at Bristol-Myers. Financial details and other terms of the deal were not released. 

This follows on from a deal BMS signed just yesterday with AbbVie ($ABBV) that sees the pair testing Opdivo and/or BMS’ other checkpoint inhibitor Yervoy (ipilimumab) together with AbbVie's cancer candidate Rova-T (rovalpituzumab tesirine). This trial is also focusing on lung cancer, although not NSCLC but rather small cell lung cancer.

BMS is also currently in a race with rival Merck ($MRK) to move up the NSCLC treatment pathway as both are vying for a first-line approval in the U.S.

- check out the release

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