Bristol-Myers Squibb and development-stage biotechnology researcher Exelixis today announced a global collaboration covering two novel molecules for cancer with their associated development programs.
The two molecules are Exelixis' XL184, a small molecule inhibitor of MET, VEGFR2 and RET, which is currently in Phase III development for medullary thyroid cancer; and Exelixis' XL281, a small molecule inhibitor of RAF kinase, which is currently in Phase I development for the treatment of patients with advanced solid tumor malignancies.
Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay Exelixis an upfront cash payment of $195 million for the development and commercialisation rights for both programmes and to make additional license payments of $45 million in 2009.
The companies have agreed to co-develop XL184 and The clinical development of XL184 will be directed by a joint committee and Exelixis is expected to conduct a significant portion of clinical development activities through 2010.
Exelixis will have the option to co-promote XL184 in the US and the companies will share worldwide development costs and commercial profits on XL184 in the US. Exelixis will be eligible to receive sales performance milestones of up to $150 million and double-digit royalties on sales outside the United States.
Exelixis may opt out of the co-development of XL184, in which case it would be eligible to receive development and regulatory milestones of up to $295 million, double-digit royalties on XL184 product sales worldwide, and sales performance milestones.
Bristol-Myers Squibb will receive an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialise XL281 and will be responsible for funding all future development. Exelixis is eligible for development and regulatory milestones of up to $315 million, sales performance milestones of up to $150 million and double-digit royalties on worldwide sales of XL281.
''For nearly a decade, the foundation for our close collaborations with Exelixis has been a commitment to discover and develop new medicines to help patients prevail over serious disease,'' said Elliott Sigal, MD, PhD, executive vice president, chief scientific officer, and president, R&D, Bristol-Myers Squibb. ''XL184 and XL281 represent significant new opportunities to inhibit the progression of many different tumor types. This agreement represents the next pearl in our on-going String of Pearls initiative, designed to accelerate our company's strategy to transform into a BioPharma leader by blending external scientific innovation with our own internal research and development expertise. Together with Exelixis, we intend to fully explore how these compounds can potentially extend the treatment options of patients with cancer."
''There have been many attempts to blend the best of big pharma with the best of biotech, and over the years Exelixis and Bristol-Myers Squibb have learned how to do just that," said George Scangos, president and chief executive officer of Exelixis. "This new collaboration maximises the capabilities and strengths of each partner and sets the stage for the aggressive development of XL184 and XL281.
Scangos said, "The collaboration provides the development programs with appropriate resources and positions both compounds to be developed to their full potential in indications with significant commercial potential. Exelixis and Bristol-Myers Squibb are working toward a shared vision of maximizing the potential of these compounds to benefit patients who suffer from numerous types of cancer.''
XL184 provides a novel approach to the treatment of a variety of solid tumors where signaling through MET, VEGFR2 or RET plays an important role in dysregulated tumor growth and progression. XL184 has recently begun a Phase III clinical trial in medullary thyroid cancer, a disease in which RET mutations are found in a large proportion of patients. In addition, clinical trials to exploit the MET and VEGFR2 targeting of XL184 are ongoing in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and glioblastoma. Preclinically, XL184 also exhibits inhibitory activity for MET and VEGFR2 in a variety of breast, colon and brain tumor models.
XL281 is a novel small molecule designed to selectively inhibit RAF kinase, which lies immediately downstream of RAS and is a key component of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK kinase signaling pathway. The RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway plays a key role in the transmission of growth-promoting signals downstream of receptor tyrosine kinases. Dysregulation of this pathway plays a pivotal role in the progression of many human tumors, and inhibition of the pathway may be useful in the treatment of cancer. Phase I trials with this molecule are underway in order to select a dose and schedule for Phase II disease-directed trials.
The effectiveness of the agreement is subject to antitrust clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary regulatory approvals.