Bristol Myers enters up to $920 mln deal with Immatics for cancer drug

A sign stands outside a Bristol Myers Squibb facility in Cambridge
A sign stands outside a Bristol Myers Squibb facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Dec 14 (Reuters) - Drugmaker Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY.N) has agreed to spend up to $920 million for global exclusive rights to an experimental immunotherapy developed by Immatics NV , the companies said on Tuesday.

Under the agreement, the companies will co-develop the therapy, IMA401. Cancer-focused drug developer Immatics will receive an upfront payment of $150 million, up to $770 million in milestone payments and tiered double-digit royalty payments on net sales of the therapy.

IMA401, currently in pre-clinical development, belongs to a category of treatments that aim to activate T-cells, a part of the body's immune system, against cancer cells.

It is geared to target proteins prevalent in many types of solid tumors, including a type of non-small cell lung cancer as well as head and neck cancer.

"Bristol Myers Squibb's global clinical development and commercialization capabilities in oncology make them the ideal partner for the further development of IMA401," said Carsten Reinhardt, chief development officer at Immatics.

The deal builds on Immatics' collaboration with Celgene in 2019 to develop new cell therapies for multiple cancers. Bristol Myers completed its $74 billion acquisition of Celgene later that year.

Bristol Myers has been trying to expand its cancer pipeline as its blockbuster immunotherapy, Opdivo, faces stiff competition from Merck & Co's (MRK.N) rival treatment Keytruda.

In June, the drugmaker had inked an up to $3.1 billion agreement with Eisai Co (4523.T) to jointly develop and market an experimental drug for the treatment of solid tumors. In May, Bristol Myers had entered into a $1.56 billion deal to exclusively develop and market Agenus Inc's (AGEN.O) experimental cancer drug.

Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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