Exelixis licenses two drug programs to Bristol
* Bristol to pay $60 mln upfront for two deals
* Exelixis exits development of XL-139
* Bristol waives rights to 3rd cancer candidate
By Deena Beasley
LOS ANGELES, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Exelixis Inc (EXEL.O) has licensed two more experimental drug programs to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N) for $60 million upfront, and potential milestone payments of up to $505 million.
The deals -- for programs in diabetes and inflammation -- bring to five the total number of collaborations between the two companies, Exelixis Chief Executive Michael Morrissey told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Bristol-Myers in June dropped out of a partnership to develop the smaller company's experimental cancer drug XL184.
As part of the latest deal, the companies said they made "minor amendments" to their XL281 and liver X receptor agreements.
In addition, Exelixis has opted to drop out of further co-development of experimental cancer drug XL139 and will receive an accelerated milestone payment.
Under the latest deal, Bristol Myers will be responsible for research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of a small-molecule drug called TGR5, which targets a bile acid receptor and has potential as a treatment for diabetes.
Under the other part of the deal, the two companies will collaborate on ROR antagonist programs -- with potential in inflammatory disorders -- up to a preclinical transition point after which Bristol-Myers have sole responsibility for further work and potential commercialization.
Exelixis said it is granting rights to the ROR program in exchange for Bristol-Myers waiving rights to receive a third investigational new drug candidate under the companies' 2006 oncology development agreement.
Morrissey, who became CEO at Exelixis in July, said the $60 million upfront payment was included in the company's previous estimate for cash holdings of $250 million at the end of 2010.
"This shows that the company and team is still functioning well in terms of new deals and compounds," he said. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; editing by Carol Bishopric)
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