Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Enterome said today they will partner to discover and develop microbiome-derived biomarkers, drug targets, and bioactive molecules as potential treatments and companion diagnostics for cancer.

The companies said they will also work to identify novel microbiome-derived biomarkers, with the aim of improving clinical outcomes for patients treated with BMS’ Immuno-Oncology portfolio.

The collaboration is designed to combine BMS’ expertise in developing immunotherapies with Enterome’s proprietary metagenomic platform technology and know-how in gut microbiome science.

Enterome uses two different platforms—a quantitative metagenomics platform allowing the characterization of a personal metagenome or “metagenotype®” associated with a disease phenotype  and a functional metagenomics platform allowing the discovery and the development of new drugs and targets.

“Enterome’s focus on target identification and validation, along with their significant experience in microbiome research, can help to advance our goal to improve outcomes for patients treated with immunotherapies,” Carl Decicco, Ph.D., BMS’ head of discovery, said in a statement.

BMS will receive exclusive rights to intellectual property and therapies generated during the collaboration. In return, BMS has agreed to pay Enterome $15 million upfront toward access to its technology and R&D funding.

BMS also agreed to pay Enterome payments tied to achieving preclinical and clinical milestones for each licensed therapeutic candidate, plus royalties on net sales.

Enterome could receive additional milestone payments toward new diagnostic products discovered and developed during the collaboration—the second related to immuno-oncology inked by BMS in less than a week.

On November 10, BMS entered a 5-year research alliance of undisclosed value with Johns Hopkins University designed to identify mechanisms of response and resistance in patients whose cancer is being treated with checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies, including BMS’ Opdivo® (nivolumab), the combination of Opdivo and Yervoy® (ipilimumab), or other investigational immunotherapies.

The BMS–Hopkins alliance will study patient tumor samples in four primary research areas: characterization of tumor antigens and tumor antigen-specific T cells, multifaceted profiling of the tumor microenvironment, assessment of microbiome components that modulate systemic antitumor immunity, and elucidation of novel tumor and immuno-metabolism factors that modify responsiveness to immunotherapy.

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