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Bristol-Myers JV licenses immuno-oncology assets from Yale

The joint venture between Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Allied Minds has picked up the rights to an immuno-oncology platform and associated lead molecules from Yale University. Having struck the deal, Allied-Bristol Life Sciences (ABLS) is to work on turning Yale's research into antibody recruiting molecules (ARM) into drug development programs that are ready for the clinic.

Professor David Spiegel and his lab have been publishing papers on ARMs since at least 2009, leading to the project reaching the point at which it could benefit from some industry drug discovery noise. ARMs are low molecular weight synthetic substances that roundup antibodies already circulating in the bloodstream and unleash them against cancer cells. By tapping into the body's own reserves of antibodies, Spiegel and his collaborators think they can avoid some of the immune side effects and production costs that are associated with creating antibodies and administering them intravenously.

In the release, ABLS talked up the potential for the approach to treat prostate cancer, a disease that Spiegel and his collaborators have been working on for years. Back in 2009 the Yale lab published a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, in which the researchers outlined how they designed ARMs that induced antibody binding and immune-mediated cytotoxicity of prostate cancer cells. With years of research into the novel class of molecules already behind the team, ABLS thinks now is the time to step in and power the programs toward the clinic.

"We are eager to work with David and Yale on this program. This innovative university technology and associated lead molecules are at the ideal stage that we are seeking, where we can bring to bear the drug discovery and development expertise of ABLS and its partners to accelerate therapies to the clinic," ABLS CEO Satish Jindal said in a statement. The project represents an early test of ABLS, which was set up one year ago to usher research at U.S. academic institutions through preclinical using a mix of Bristol-Myers' drug discovery knowhow and Allied Minds' management experience.

Since setting up shop in August 2014, ABLS has named Jindal, a former Bristol-Myers VP, as its CEO, picked up intellectual property from Harvard University and Yale and brought Synergy Partners on board to help with drug discovery and development.

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