News Feature | August 6, 2014

Bristol-Myers Squibb, Allied Minds Form Enterprise To Mine Academia For Drug Discoveries

By Cyndi Root

academic research

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) announced in a press release that it has formed a new company with Allied Minds to identify promising drugs at universities. The new alliance is part of a growing trend in the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government to mine academia for therapeutic candidates. The Telegraph reports that AstraZeneca and Pfizer are pursuing similar strategies, while Novartis has gone about creating a university-type atmosphere at its headquarters.

Allied Minds has been working with medical device developers, moving innovations into the marketplace. The alliance with BMS marks its first venture into pharmaceuticals. Carl Decicco, SVP and Head of Discovery at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said, “We believe this new venture will enhance the translation of early-stage academic research and will ultimately help advance important potential new medicines more efficiently.”

BMS and Allied Minds Agreement

BMS and Allied Minds have agreed to form a new enterprise, Allied-Bristol Life Sciences LLC, jointly formed and funded. The company will engage with university researchers to identify promising discoveries with commercial potential. Upon identification of an opportunity, the enterprise will form companies to support development through feasibility studies, pre-clinical studies, and full-phase discovery programs. If Allied-Bristol Life Sciences identifies a suitable drug candidate, BMS may opt to acquire the company.

Chris Silva, CEO of Allied Minds, commented on the new partnership, saying, “The innovations developed in U.S. research institutions represent an important resource for scientific advancement, as well as economic development and financial returns. Our partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb combines complementary strengths, resources, reach, and expertise to create an exciting new paradigm in the drug development space.”

Pharmaceutical Industry and Academia

The new company formed by BMS and Allied Minds is a way for the pharmaceutical company to grow its pipeline. BMS joins other industry players in searching universities for innovations, as a 2010 study published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (9, 867-882 (Nov. 2010)) showed that one quarter of approved drugs started their journey at university laboratories. One third of new drugs considered scientifically novel originated at a university.

Federal Efforts At Innovation

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are conducting similar efforts with their research grantees. The two federal agencies have begun a training program called the I-Corps at NIH, which enables biomedical researchers to share federally funded research and make it commercially available. Specially trained instructors with business and biomedical experience will help academics to bring innovations from the lab into the marketplace.