News Feature | December 16, 2014

Ono Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kyowa Hakko Kirin Collaborate On Immuno-Oncology Drug Study

By Suzanne Hodsden

Three companies are combining their efforts on a new immuno-oncology drug study that will test the efficacy of using Opdivo and mogamulizumab together to treat advanced or metastatic solid tumors. Ono Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), and Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK) will conduct the phase 1 study in Japan, reports Finances.

The FDA granted Fast Track designation to BMS’s Opdivo in 2012 and granted the medication Breakthrough Therapy status in 2014. Currently, the drug is in development in over fifty clinical trials for a variety of oncological indications.

Likewise, KHK’s Mogamulizumab is currently expanding its list of approved indications with several ongoing clinical trials.

Both Opdivo and Mogamulizumab are approved for use in Japan, and both are classified as immuno-therapy treatments, which means they can trigger and use the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells, which is a much safer and less toxic method than traditional methods.

Opdivo works by binding to PD-1 proteins, which regulate the bodies’ immune system and prevent over-reaction. These proteins are typically employed by cancerous cells to avoid detection by the immune system. Mogamulizumab, likewise, suppresses immune cells which protect cancerous tumors.

Because the two treatments operate differently, scientists hope their combination could provide an even more potent new treatment.

Hiroshi Awata, executive director of clinical development at Ono Pharma explains, “Studying combination regimens of immunotherapies offers the opportunity to explore the potential of enhanced efficacy compared to current standards of care in treating cancer.”

Earlier this year, KHK entered into a similar immuno-oncology collaboration with AstraZeneca which is testing Mogamulizumab with another immuno-therapy.

BMS announced this month its plans to build a $900M new biologics facility in Ireland to augment an existing plant already built in Massachusetts.

BMS told the Wall Street Journal that the investment was in anticipation of the industry’s shift towards biologic treatments and noted that biologics make up over half of their existing pipeline.

This most recent study will be conducted by Ono and KHK.