Celgene has expanded one collaboration, and will launch another, with Triphase Accelerator Corp., a private drug development company dedicated to advancing new oncology compounds through Phase II proof-of-concept. The value of the collaborations was not disclosed.

Triphase said today it gave Celgene the option to acquire a novel bi-specific antibody that Triphase has licensed from PharmAbcine. The bi-specific antibody targets VEGFR-2/TIE 2 and is currently in preclinical studies.

“This option agreement and collaboration with Celgene provides us with the resources to study a novel drug and explore the potential to make a meaningful difference in the treatment of cancer with high unmet medical needs,” Frank Stonebanks, founder, president and CEO of Triphase, said in a statement.

Under the new collaboration, Triphase received an undisclosed upfront payment and will control product development and retain all commercial rights to the bi-specific antibody. If Celgene exercises its option to acquire the antibody from Triphase, Celgene will become responsible for product development and retain commercial rights. Triphase will be eligible to receive regulatory and sales milestone payments if Celgene exercises its option to acquire the antibody.

Triphase also said the companies inked a supplemental agreement to add a Phase I development program that will explore combining an intravenous (IV) formulation of marizomib with bevacizumab in glioblastoma (GBM).

Triphase is developing marizomib in both IV and oral formulations as a proteasome inhibitor for hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. An IV formulation has been evaluated in more than 230 patients in four Phase I studies in patients with solid and hematologic malignancies, either as a single agent or in combination with dexamethasone or an HDAC inhibitor.

After marizomib showed activity in a Phase I study in patients with multiple myeloma refractory to lenalidomide or bortezomib, the IV formulation is now being evaluated in an ongoing Phase II clinical trial in combination with dexamethasone in a highly refractory multiple myeloma population, including those refractory to carfilzomib. Marizomib is also being tested in a Phase I study in combination with pomalidomide and dexamethasone in relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. Triphase said it is also evaluating an oral formulation of marizomib in IND-enabling studies.

Marizomib has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the EU as a multiple myeloma treatment.

Under the supplemental deal, Triphase will receive an undisclosed amount of additional development funds by sharing costs with Celgene. In return, Triphase will control product development and retain all commercial rights to marizomib unless Celgene exercises its option to acquire the product from Triphase for an undisclosed payment. At that point, Triphase would be eligible to receive payments tied to regulatory and sales milestones.

Triphase has had a strategic relationship with Celgene focused on oncology drug development opportunities dating back to soon after the company was formed in 2010, as a spinout of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and MaRS Innovation. Through the relationship, Celgene obtained rights of first refusal on the first three cancer products Triphase advanced to clinical proof-of-concept, plus a right of first negotiation on three more future oncology products that may be acquired by Triphase.

After Triphase acquired its first oncology product in late 2012, Triphase and Celgene launched a formal collaboration with an undisclosed upfront payment.