Bristol-Myers Squibb has partnered with PureTech Health subsidiary Vedanta Biosciences to study its Opdivo in combination with VE800 drug candidate for the treatment of advanced or metastatic cancers.
Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor, while Vedanta Biosciences’ VE800 is a microbiome-derived immuno-oncology product.
As per the terms of the agreement, Vedanta Biosciences will retain control of the VE800 programme, including global research and development (R&D) and commercial rights.
Bristol-Myers Squibb oncology, development head Fouad Namouni said: “Vedanta Biosciences is a leading company focused on the characterization of immunomodulatory human gut commensals and the development of live bacterial products for the potential treatment of human diseases.
“Our collaboration with Vedanta Biosciences will allow us to gain a deeper understanding about the emerging microbiome landscape, its role in oncology, and the potential to improve outcomes for patients with advanced or metastatic cancer.”
In various cancer preclinical models, VE800 demonstrated ability to trigger CD8+ T cells, stimulate the attack of immune system on tumour cells and significantly enhance the anti-PD-1 therapy effects.
The partners noted that these findings support clinical research to evaluate the potential of modulating the microbiome with VE800 to strengthen the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors.
Vedanta Biosciences co-founder and CEO Bernat Olle said: “Our lead, microbiome-based immuno-oncology candidate, VE800, is based on work conducted in collaboration with our co-founder, Dr Kenya Honda, showing in preclinical models that certain gut-dwelling bacterial strains potentiate cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and enhance infiltration into tumours.
“Through this collaboration our goal is to determine whether VE800 in combination with Opdivo can improve outcomes for patients with advanced or metastatic cancers.”
In conjunction with the immuno-oncology alliance, Bristol-Myers is planning to make an equity investment in Vedanta Biosciences.
The investment is subject to the completion of due diligence, negotiation by the parties of definitive transaction agreements and receipt of all requisite approvals by Bristol-Myers.