Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will use Five Prime Therapeutics’ target protein discovery platform in a new collaboration aimed at discovering, developing and commercializing new immuno-oncology therapies for two undisclosed immune checkpoint pathways in a deal that could be worth as much as $350.5 million to Five Prime, the companies said today.

BMS will obtain exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize products directed toward protein targets identified by Five Prime before and during the collaboration. Drug candidates developed against new and existing targets may be studied either as single agents or in combination with existing or potential BMS immuno-oncology therapies.

In return, BMS agreed to pay Five Prime $20 million upfront, plus up to $9.5 million in research funding over the course of the undisclosed research term. In addition, BMS will acquire 4.9% of Five Prime’s outstanding common stock for about $21 million, representing a roughly 30% premium.

Additionally, BMS could also pay Five Prime up to $300 million in payments per collaboration target tied to future development, regulatory and sales based milestones, as well as tiered royalty payments on net sales of each product commercialized by BMS starting in the mid-single-digits, rising to low-double-digits.

“Five Prime’s innovative technology platforms complement our immuno-oncology pipeline and will help expand our understanding of promising new therapeutic options for patients,” Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, evp and CSO for BMS, said in a statement.

BMS is developing the cancer immune-therapeutic nivolumab. On March 3, one of the company’s research partners, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, trumpeted Phase I findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, showing 62% overall survival a year after taking the drug candidate, and 43% overall survival after two years among the study’s 107 metastatic melanoma patients.

The study—in which patients took nivolumab every other week for up to 96 weeks involved researchers from Dana-Farber as well as Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, and allied institutions.

BMS is among drug developers scrambling to develop drugs targeting PD-1 or its complement, PD-L1. So too is Merck & Co., which has promised to push ahead with development of its investigational anti-PD-1 immunotherapy MK-3475 despite a restructuring that will eliminate an additional 8,500 staffers by the end of 2015.

Five Prime’s pipeline includes  two cancer candidates—FP-1039 (GSK3052230), a Phase Ib fibroblast growth factor ligand trap being developed in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to treat multiple solid tumors; and FPA144, a monoclonal antibody that blocks signaling through fibroblast growth factor receptor 2b, which is expected to begin a Phase I study in gastric cancer by the end of 2014.

Previous articleNovel Technique Discovers New Gene Linked to Heart Attack Risk
Next articleMedImmune and MD Anderson Agree to Launch Moon Shot at Cancer