Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will extend for a year its nearly 3-year-old collaboration with Five Prime Therapeutics to discover, develop, and commercialize immuno-oncology therapies directed toward targets in three undisclosed immune checkpoint pathways.

BMS has exercised its option to extend the research term from March 2017 to March 2018 and will provide additional research funding for the additional year, Five Prime said yesterday. BMS has agreed to use Five Prime's discovery capabilities to advance the three immuno-oncology programs toward identifying drug candidates for continued R&D.

Drug candidates may be studied either as single agents or in combination with marketed BMS immuno-oncology therapies, or others in development.

BMS has advanced the first antibody from the collaboration to IND-enabling activities, Five Prime said, while continuing with Five Prime to work on antibody drug candidates targeting these pathways.

“Together, we have made significant progress that includes an antibody candidate that could lead to an IND application for our collaborator,” Luis Borges, Ph.D., Five Prime svp of research, said in a statement. “We are pleased that the demonstrated productivity of our unique research capabilities has prompted Bristol-Myers Squibb, a clear leader in immuno-oncology, to invest further in our efforts to find new drug candidates to modulate three checkpoint pathways.”

The companies agreed that BMS will obtain exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize products directed toward undisclosed protein targets in the three checkpoint pathways identified by Five Prime before and during the collaboration. BMS paid a $20 million up-front fee to Five Prime and agreed to provide up to $11.6 million in research funding over the entire research term.

Five Prime will be eligible to receive up to $300 million tied to achieving development, regulatory, and sales-based milestone payments per collaboration product and tiered mid-single-digit rising to low-double-digit royalty payments on net sales of each product commercialized by BMS. The development milestone payments include $5 million upon filing of the first IND application by BMS.

The companies launched their up-to-$350.5 million collaboration in March 2014, focusing on two undisclosed immune checkpoint pathways. In January 2016, the companies added a third immune checkpoint pathway to the collaboration—3 months after signing a separate up-to-$1.74 billion agreement for BMS to co-develop and co-commercialize Five Prime’s colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) antibody program, led by the cancer/immunology compound FPA008.

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