Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will use CytomX Therapeutics’ Probody™ drug discovery platform in a collaboration to find, develop, and commercialize new immunotherapies against multiple cancer immunotherapy targets, the companies said today. The collaboration could net CytomX more than $1.2 billion, plus royalties.

Probodies are monoclonal antibodies that, when selectively activated within the cancer microenvironment, focus the activity of therapeutic antibodies to tumors while sparing healthy tissue. The companies reason that Probodies have the potential to create multiple new classes of safer and more effective therapies by expanding the therapeutic window for both validated and novel targets.

CytomX agreed to grant BMS exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Probodies for up to four oncology targets including the immune inhibitory checkpoint receptor CTLA-4. BMS will have additional rights to substitute up to two collaboration targets.

In return, BMS agreed to pay CytomX $50 million upfront, and provide research funding over the course of the research term. CytomX will also be eligible for additional preclinical payments and up to $298 million in payments for each collaboration target tied to future development, regulatory and sales milestones. CytomX is also in line for tiered mid-single-digit rising to low-double-digit royalty payments on net sales of each product commercialized by BMS.

“Immuno-oncology offers a tremendous opportunity to change how cancer is treated, and Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to advancing our immuno-oncology drug research and development for patients living with the disease,” Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, BMS’ evp and CSO, said in a statement.

Added CytomX CEO Sean McCarthy, D.Phil.: “We are thrilled to announce our first cancer immunotherapy collaboration with an unequivocal leader in this field. This strategic alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb demonstrates that our innovative Probody Platform has the potential to enable novel therapies in this transformational area of cancer research and development.”

CytomX’s collaboration deal with BMS is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

BMS joins Pfizer and ImmonoGen among CytomX’s biopharma collaboration partners. Last year Pfizer and CytomX launched an up-to-$635 million-plus collaboration to develop and commercialize multiple Probody™-Drug Conjugates against cancer by using the Probody platform and Pfizer ADC capabilities. Pfizer agreed to pay CytomX about $25 million in upfront, research reimbursement and preclinical milestone payments; as well as about $610 million in payments tied to regulatory and sales milestones; and tiered royalties reaching double digits on potential future sales.

ImmunoGen is also collaborating with CytomX to develop Probody-drug conjugates against a defined but undisclosed number of cancer targets, in a partnership that is using ImmunoGen’s ADC cell-killing agents and engineered linkers. The value of that collaboration was not disclosed. 

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