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Bristol-Myers (BMY) Teams Up With Agenus for Antibody Program

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Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY - Free Report) announced that it entered a global license agreement with clinical-stage immuno-oncology company, Agenus (AGEN - Free Report) .

Per the agreement, Bristol Myers Squibb will obtain a global exclusive license to the latter’s proprietary bispecific antibody program, AGEN1777, that blocks TIGIT and a second undisclosed target.

Bristol Myers will be entirely responsible for the development and any subsequent commercialization of AGEN1777 and its related products worldwide. In exchange, Agenus will receive an upfront payment of $200 million and up to $1.36 billion in development, regulatory and commercial milestones, in addition to tiered double-digit royalties on net product sales. It will also retain options to conduct clinical studies under the development plan, combination studies with certain other Agenus pipeline assets and co-promote AGEN1777 in the United States, upon commercialization.

We note that Agenus expects to file an Investigational New Drug (“IND”) application for the development of AGEN1777 with the FDA in the second quarter. Bristol Myers intends to advance the research and development of AGEN1777 in immuno-oncology (“I-O”) for high-priority tumor indications, including non-small cell lung cancer.

AGEN1777 is in late preclinical development and designed to target major inhibitory receptors expressed on T and NK cells to improve anti-tumor activity. In preclinical studies, this approach has shown significant potential in tumor models where anti-PD-1 or anti-TIGIT monospecific antibodies alone are ineffective.

Shares of Agenus rallied 20.5% on the news. 

Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers’ shares have gained 5.7% year to date against the industry's decline of 5.4%.

The company’s performance in the first quarter of 2021 was dismal as Opdivo sales declined. Moreover, Revlimid sales weren’t impressive either.

Nevertheless, the recent approval of new drugs adds a new stream of revenues, which should propel growth in the coming quarters.

In March, the company and partner bluebird bio, Inc. (BLUE - Free Report) obtained the FDA approval for Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel; ide-cel) as the first B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory MM. The FDA also approved Breyanzi (lisocabtagene maraleucel: liso-cel), a CD19-directed CAR T cell therapy, for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) large B-cell lymphoma.

Bristol-Myers currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the health care sector includes Repligen Corporation (RGEN - Free Report) , which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Repligen’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased to $2.21 from $1.66 in the past 90 days.

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