Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) have entered into a new clinical collaboration to test the combination of Opdivo (nivolumab) and NKTR-214 to treat five tumour types and seven other indications.

BMY's Opdivo is PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor that binds to the checkpoint receptor PD-1, which is used by the cancer cells to take refuge from the immune system and block the tumour from being exposed to the immune system.

Nektar’s NKTR-214 is an investigational immuno-stimulatory therapy developed to expose the tumour micro-environment to specific cancer-fighting T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells and increase expression of PD-1 on these immune cells.

Under the collaboration, Phase I/II clinical trials will be conducted in order to determine the safety and tolerability of Opdivo and NKTR-214 compared to the current standard of care indicated for a range of ailments such as melanoma, kidney, colorectal, bladder and non-small-cell lung cancer.

"We are excited to explore the potential benefits in multiple types of cancer of the combination of Opdivo with Nektar’s innovative cancer immunotherapy."

Bristol-Myers Squibb head of oncology Fouad Namouni said: “We are excited to explore the potential benefits in multiple types of cancer of the combination of Opdivo with Nektar’s innovative cancer immunotherapy.

“We believe that a combination regimen that utilises two different and complementary mechanisms designed to harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer has the potential to provide new treatment options for patients.”

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Both companies will equally share costs of the combined trials, while Nektar will retain its global commercial rights to NKTR-214.

The collaborating companies are currently undertaking an initial dose-escalation trial of Opdivo and NKTR-214..