Amgen teams with MD Anderson on new BiTE programs for MDS

Fast on the heels of the FDA's approval of Blincyto (blinatumomab), Amgen's ($AMGN) new leukemia fighter that uses a bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) system to flag cancer cells for the immune system to destroy, the Big Biotech has partnered up with MD Anderson in Texas on a new program aimed at identifying targets for this technology in myelodysplastic syndrome.

These bispecific antibodies--connecting two antibodies through a peptide linker to bind T cells and cancer cells--attach to CD3 on T cells and another site that can be located on the cancer cell. MDS can trigger severe anemia that in turn may spur acute myelogenous leukemia.

Guillermo Garcia-Manero

Dr. Guillermo Garcia-Manero, a professor of leukemia at MD Anderson who runs the MDS/AML program for their Moon Shots program--a project that brought in a select group of companies interested in accelerating new drug development programs into the clinic--will be working with Amgen on the new targets for this technology.

"At MD Anderson, we have unrivaled proteomics capabilities to explore new targets for this disease, and this novel approach may very well open up new potential treatments for our patients," noted Garcia-Manero.

MD Anderson will be in line for milestones and royalties on any new therapies for MDS that come out of the deal.

"The agreement covers the full scope of clinical development from identifying targets for this therapy in MDS to developing fully tested and approved new therapies," added Dr. Samir Hanash, a professor of clinical cancer prevention and director at MD Anderson.

- here's the release