Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will reacquire Asian rights to the Phase II solid-tumor candidate ASLAN002 from Aslan Pharmaceuticals for up to $60 million-plus, the Singapore biotech said today.

The deal covers rights to the candidate in China, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, and other Asian countries, Aslan said. BMS sold those rights in 2011 to Aslan for an undisclosed sum, but retained rights elsewhere in the world to ASLAN002, which is also called BMS777607.

ASLAN002 is a potent small-molecule dual inhibitor of the cMET receptor tyrosine kinase and RON immune checkpoint.

In March 2015, ASLAN002 successfully completed a Phase I study showing that inhibition of RON resulted in potent inhibition of plasma biomarkers of RON activity. The candidate was also shown to be safe and well tolerated at all doses tested, following dose escalation in 39 solid tumor patients for a minimum of 28 days as both once-daily and twice-daily dose regimens. The Phase I, open-label, multicenter study was conducted in Australia.

BMS will resume responsibility for all development and commercialization activities and expenses related to ASLAN002, Aslan said.

In return, BMS agreed to pay Aslan $10 million upfront, up to $50 million in payments tied to achieving development and regulatory milestones, and royalties on future worldwide sales of ASLAN002.

“The commercial terms of the agreement further strengthen ASLAN’s financial position following the closing of our recent financing rounds; we are in a very strong position to continue to build our proprietary pipeline of novel clinical programs,” Aslan CEO Carl Firth, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Aslan last month raised $23 million in a pre-IPO financing round, and in January closed its Series C financing round, raising $43 million.

ASLAN002 is one of Aslan's two most advanced drug candidates. The other is ASLAN001, a pan-HER inhibitor being developed for cholangiocarcinoma, breast cancer, and gastric cancer, with Phase II data generated in gastric cancer.

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