Ipsen pens early-stage, $14.5M programmed cell death cancer deal with BAKX Therapeutics

Cancer cells multiply out of control because they're able to escape a mechanism known as programmed cell death: Ipsen is now penning a new pact to help try and put this barrier back up.

The pharma is stumping up a small $14.5 million upfront to little-known BAKX Therapeutics, but with a heavily backloaded $837.5 million in biobucks on the table. This gives it access to BAKX’s preclinical program of BCL-2 associated protein (BAX), an effector of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

The focus is on BKX-001, which Ipsen will pursue in leukemia, lymphoma and solid tumors, according to a statement.

BAKX says it has early data showing BAX activation by small-molecule agonists can boost programmed cell death in leukemia cells, while sparing healthy cells.

Ipsen will now continue the work to see if this can pan out in further preclinical and, more importantly, clinical work.

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Dr. Howard Mayer, EVP and head of research and development at Ipsen, said through the partnership, "we will be building a strong cross-company team to advance this innovation for people living with these forms of cancer, and their healthcare teams."

The deal comes two weeks after the France-based pharma penned another small, slightly late-stage deal, focused on the Parkinson’s disease therapy mesdopetam. Ipsen offered up $28 million upfront to IRLAB, the drug’s original developer.