Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has signed a clinical research alliance with Chinese Tsinghua University to facilitate the discovery of drug candidates with new autoimmune disease and cancer targets.

The move is part of BMS’ commitment to tackle urgent unmet clinical needs in China by providing new treatment options via scientific development, collaborations and innovative portfolio.

As part of the agreement, BMS and Tsinghua University will combine their respective scientific expertise and capabilities to primarily validate the targets and generate early therapeutic agents for clinical development.

Tsinghua University Institute for Immunology director Chen Dong said: “We believe that our strengthened collaboration with BMS will combine our respective distinguished expertise in the field of immune diseases, helping transform research discoveries into new treatment options as soon as possible.”

The university’s Innovation Center for Immune Therapy will carry out research for the projects, while BMS will hold the option for exclusive licensing of any discovered candidates.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Discovery senior vice-president and head Carl Decicco said: “Bristol-Myers Squibb and Tsinghua University have built a long-term strategic collaboration and have a shared focus on advancing science and research to help patients.

“We look forward to bringing projects forward that will benefit from their innovative research in immunology and autoimmune disease.”

“Bristol-Myers Squibb and Tsinghua University have a long-term collaboration and have a shared focus on advancing science and research to help patients.”

BMS and Tsinghua University originally formed a multi-year strategic partnership in May 2012.

The alliance focussed on discovery of autoimmune targets, structural biology research and mapping the three-dimensional protein structure of biological molecular targets.

Under the terms of the deal signed by the partners, BMS agreed to sponsor research at the university’s School of Life Sciences for the detection and validation of new targets in immunoscience and oncology.