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May 3, 2013

BMS Partners Again with Ambrx, in Up-to-$112M-and-Up ADC Collaboration

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will use Ambrx’s protein medicinal technology to develop antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) for unspecified cancer indications, in an up-to-$112 million-and-up collaboration that is the third between the companies.

    BMS will pay Ambrx $15 million up front, and up to $97 million per product developed through the collaboration – reflecting combined funding for discovery and research activities, plus potential development, regulatory and sales-based payments tied to undisclosed milestones.

    In return, BMS will receive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize products resulting from the collaboration, while Ambrx will be eligible to receive royalties on net sales. Additional terms were not disclosed.

    Ambrx and BMS are among companies looking to develop ADCs: The list includes Roche (Genentech)’s Kadcyla, approved in February for breast cancer indications, and Seattle Genetics’ Adcetris, approved in 2011 for two types of lymphoma.

    The latest collaboration comes less than two years after the companies entered into two separate agreements to research, develop and commercialize biologics based on Ambrx's ReCODETM platform technology. ReCODE allows users to modify native proteins with amino acid building blocks beyond the common 20, thus engineering enhanced versions of the proteins for possible therapeutic use.

    One agreement covered the Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF-21) protein, for potentially treating type 2 diabetes; the other focused on the Relaxin hormone, for potentially treating heart failure. In today’s announcement by Ambrx, the company said BMS is developing both drug candidates.

    Under those collaborations, BMS paid Ambrx $24 million up front, and agreed to make potential milestone and royalty payments on worldwide sales for both programs.

    “We are pleased to enter into a third collaboration with the company to include another aspect of our technology platform," Lawson Macartney, Ph.D., Ambrx’s CEO, said in a statement. "We look forward to working together to further utilize Ambrx's technology to discover and advance these antibody drug conjugates for oncology indications."

    BMS is among several companies to team up with Ambrx in projects to discover and develop new products, in deals that have reaped for the company $45 million up front with a possible $645 million in milestone payments, for a total $715 million. The others include Astellas, Merck & Co., Eli Lilly, and several undisclosed partners.


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