On February 14, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and Nektar Therapeutics announced a major partnership deal worth approximately $3.6bn, making it the top partnership deal in the immuno-oncology space within the last two years.

Under this partnership, both companies have agreed to co-develop and commercialize Nektar’s lead immuno-oncology drug NKTR-214 in combination both with BMS’s Opdivo (nivolumab) and the combination therapy Opdivo + Yervoy (ipilimumab). BMS and Nektar have agreed on a joint clinical development plan to push forward with clinical trials in more than 20 indications and nine tumor types, including melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, and triple negative breast cancer. The companies are aiming to commence pivotal studies in renal cell carcinoma and melanoma in mid-2018. In addition, BMS and Nektar have agreed to conduct studies of additional combination therapies with other anti-cancer agents from either company or a third party.

There have been several other notable deals in the immuno-oncology space within the last two years. In 2017, Amgen and CytomX Therapeutics entered into a partnership deal worth $1.5bn that involved CytomX leading early development of CytomX’s Probody T-cell engaging bispecific against EGFRxCD3, with Amgen later leading the product’s commercialization. In 2016, a lucrative partnership deal between Celgene and Jounce Therapeutics, wherein Jounce received a $2.6bn payout, saw both companies agree to be involved in the discovery and development of novel cancer immunotherapies including Jounce’s lead drug, JTX-2011, for up to an additional four early stage programs.

As a result of the partnership deal between BMS and Nektar Therapeutics, BMS will lead the global commercialization of NKTR-214 combinations with BMS drugs, and Nektar will co-commercialise these combinations within the US, major EU markets, and Japan. Nektar will lead the global commercialization of NKTR-214 combinations with Nektar drugs and other third party products.

While the partnership deals in the immuno-oncology space were impressively high in 2016, with 2017 not far behind, GlobalData believes that this most recent partnership between BMS and Nektar indicates an even brighter future for further collaborations between large and mid-size pharma and biotech companies, resulting in growth and opportunities within the immuno-oncology market space.

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By GlobalData