BMS invests in Compugen, grants access to Opdivo for combo trial

Compugen has gained access to top-selling programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) through collaboration and a $12 million investment from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Israeli early-phase biotech Compugen’s candidate COM701, a first-in-class therapeutic antibody targeting PVRIG, will be investigated in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s monoclonal antibody (MAb) Opdivo (nivolumab) after signing a clinical partnership with the big pharma firm.

“We discovered PVRIG as immune checkpoint proteins using our computational target discovery platform. We prioritized this target among the marketable other internal programs we’re working on to serve as our leader therapeutic program in less than four years from PVRIG discovery, we initiated clinical trials for this first-in-class antibody,” Compugen CEO Anat Cohen-Dayag said in an investor call.

BMS has invested $12m into Israeli biotech Compugen. Image: iStock/metamorworks

“As we progress towards the clinic, we started to look for the appropriate partners to collaborate with. One, that would help us advance this unique first-in-class opportunity in the clinic and provide an access to our PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor for the combination portion of our trial. During this process, we evaluated several options and chose to partner with Bristol [Myers Squibb], that pioneering market leader in the field of immuno-oncology.”

Opdivo

The deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb provides Compugen with access to Opdivo at no cost for the dual combination arm of its ongoing Phase I study.

Opdivo is a PD-1 blocker approved across nine indications and in 15 registrational studies. The product pulled in $3.8 billion (€3.3 billion) in global sales revenue for Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2017.

“Having access to a widely approved and marketed drug is important because of the known targeted benefit risk assessment of Opvido and familiarity with the safety profile,” Cohen-Dyag told stakeholders.

“Whereas supply arrangement for PD-1 inhibitor are common in the immune-oncology space between big pharma and smaller biotech companies, this collaboration is designed to encompass additional studies to evaluate other combinations including triple combination studies sponsored by Bristol to investigate combined inhibition of checkpoint mechanism such as PVRIG and TIGIT for which Compugen will provide Bristol with COM701.”

$12m stake

Under terms of the deal, Bristol-Myers Squibb has acquired a $12 million stake in Compugen.

“This strategic investment is a testament to Bristol’s confidence in Compugen’s pipeline, technology and management as well as their view of Compugen as a partner for future growth,” Cohen-Dyag added.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is the second big pharma firm Compugen has teamed up with on its immune-oncology pipeline. In 2013, Compugen received $25 million upfront from Bayer, and is eligible to receive over $250 million in total milestone payments, for collaboration on the candidate, BAY 1905254, a novel immune checkpoint inhibitor for cancer immunotherapy targeting ILDR2.

Earlier this year, Bayer said the product was going into the clinic, but Cohen-Dyag did not disclose further information on its progress in the investor call.

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