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Biotech Collaborates with Startup on Cancer Drug

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted January 9, 2013

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), the world’s leading biotech giant, will work with startup BIND Biosciences toward combining one of its kinase inhibitors with BIND’s nanotech vehicle, targeting tumors.

The deal provides BIND with a major source of funding for its in-development nanomedicine program.

FierceBiotech reports that the two companies hope to develop a kinase inhibitor featuring triple targeting, and BIND’s role will be to formulate Amgen’s kinase blocker within one of its tiny particles.

These can be used to target leaky tumor blood vessels specifically and thus aim directly for cancerous targets on malignant cells. Hence the triple attack—tumor tissue, cancerous cells, and kinases.

If it works, it’ll represent a major advance over preliminary steps taken by Novartis’ (NYSE: NVS) well-known Gleevec kinase inhibitor. Those early developments did target cancer at the molecular level, but also resulted in collateral impact to healthy cells

BIND’s highly specific approach minimizes the risk to healthy cells.

Amgen is already laying down quite a bit of funding as part of the deal, with another $46.5 million lying in wait, contingent on developmental milestones. BIND also stands to collect up to $134 million in regulatory and sales milestones.

Amgen, of course, would gain a highly promising addition to its portfolio of experimental cancer drugs, and the biotech would boost its lineup.

FierceBiotech quotes Scott Minick, BIND CEO:

“My feeling is that we’ve reached an inflection point,” Minick said in an interview during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. “The pharma companies have all been looking at this technology, watching and tracking the data, but have not moved in a big way. I think you are seeing the beginning of what I hope and expect is a trend.”

Since launching in 2007, BIND has raised about $76 million so far. It is backed by venture investors including ARCH Venture Partners, DHK Investments, Endeavour Vision, Flagship Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners, and Rusnano.

The official press release can be found here.