BioLineRx negotiated an exclusive worldwide license to Biokine Therapeutics’ Phase II-ready peptide therapeutic BL-8040 (formerly BKT-140) for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and other hematologic cancers. The candidate is a short peptide that acts as a high-affinity CXCR4 chemokine receptor antagonist.

The licensing terms don’t include an up-front fee, but BioLineRx will have to pay Biokine $50,000 to $100,000 a month for certain development services the latter has committed to provide. Biokine could also receive a milestone payment of $250,000 dependent on completing the clinical development plan within certain timelines, and will receive sliding-scale royalties if BioLineRx sublicenses the drug to a third party.

BioLineRx says it aims to start a Phase II efficacy trial evaluating BL-8040 in AML patients during the first half of 2013. The firm also intends to look at the potential to develop the drug for other cancer indications. “BioLineRx has made a strategic decision to enter the field of oncology, where there is clearly an urgent need for next-generation anticancer therapies utilizing novel biological pathways,” comments Kinneret Savitsky, Ph.D., BioLineRx CEO.

Biokine says preclinical studies have shown that BL-8040 induces the mobilization of healthy hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow into the peripheral blood, and also effectively acts to flush cancer cells out from the bone marrow and other sites to expose them to chemotherapy or biological therapeutics and induce apoptosis. In vivo studies have also demonstrated that BL-8040 is effective both alone and in combination with rituximab in reducing bone marrow metastasis of lymphoma cells and stimulating lymphoma cell death.

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