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Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY - Free Report) announced an immuno-oncology-focused collaboration agreement with Enterome for the discovery and development of microbiome-derived biomarkers, drug targets and bioactive molecules as potential companion diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer. The partnership will focus on the identification of novel microbiome-derived biomarkers to improve clinical outcomes for patients treated with Bristol-Myers’ immuno-oncology products.

Paris-based Enterome is a forerunner in the development of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics based on the gut microbiome.

The collaboration intends to bring together Bristol-Myers’ experience in the discovery and development of immunotherapies and Enterome’s proprietary metagenomic technology platform to identify novel targets and molecules derived from the gut microbiome.

The agreement will see Bristol-Myers getting the exclusive rights to intellectual property and treatments developed under the collaboration. The company has also agreed to make an upfront payment of $15 million to Enterome for gaining access to its technology, and will be responsible for R&D funding. Enterome is also entitled to obtain preclinical and clinical milestone payments for each licensed therapeutic candidate in addition to royalties on net sales. Enterome will receive additional milestone payments related to new diagnostic products discovered and developed under the collaboration.

Although additional details of the agreement have not been disclosed yet, we are already quite optimistic on the deal. Gut microbiome has been known to play an important role in modulating mechanisms of response and resistance to cancer immunotherapies.



Notably, Bristol-Myers has been very active on the deal-making front. The Enterome collaboration came a week after Bristol-Myers signed up a five-year research collaboration with Johns Hopkins University.

This collaboration focuses on the identification of mechanisms of response and resistance in patients whose cancer is being treated with checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies, including Opdivo monotherapy, or Opdivo in combination with Yervoy or other experimental immunotherapies.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Bristol-Myers is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Anika Therapeutics Inc. (ANIK - Free Report) , Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (VNDA - Free Report) and Exelixis, Inc. (EXEL - Free Report) . While Anika and Vanda sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Exelixis carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Anika’s earnings estimates increased from $1.96 to $2.06 for 2016 and from $2.03 to $2.09 for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted a positive surprise in all of the four trailing quarters with an average beat of 33.14%. Its share price has gained 17% year to date.

Vanda’s loss estimates narrowed from 68 cents to 56 cents for 2016 while earnings estimates increased from 16 cents to 17 cents for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted a positive earnings surprise in three of the four trailing quarters with an average beat of 56.65%. Its share price has surged 77% year to date.

Exelixis’ loss estimates narrowed from 65 cents to 51 cents for 2016 and from a loss of 7 cents to earnings of 4 cents for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted a positive surprise twice in the trailing four quarters with an average beat of 38.52%. Its share price has skyrocketed above 150% year to date.

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