BMS knocks down a handful of early cancer candidates amid pipeline cleanout

BMS knocks down a handful of early cancer candidates amid pipeline cleanout

Bristol Myers Squibb is taking a broom to the bottom of its pipeline, axing at least nine assets including one phase 2 med being studied in a variety of solid tumors.

The cleanout was disclosed in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings release Thursday morning, providing an updated glimpse of the company’s early-stage plans. All told the company cut six cancer prospects, including a phase 2 anti-CTLA4 candidate, one fibrosis candidate and two immunology assets.

Most of the cancer prospects were phase 1-level solid tumor prospects, including a STING agonist, IL-12 F, SIRPα antagonist and the anti-CTLA4 med. But BMS also whittled down its blood cancer prospects as well, ending development of a ROR CAR-T therapy that was in phase 1.

Following behind the line of axed cancer meds is branebrutinib, an immunology asset that finished up a phase 2 trial in patients with lupus, primary Sjögren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with RA also received BMS’s approved med Orencia in an open-label follow-up portion. An update to the clinical trial record in December showed that the study jumped from recruiting to completed. Another mid-stage immunology option, an MK2 inhibitor to treat ankylosing spondylitis, was culled as well.

The move to wipe away nearly 10 assets comes as the company has projected that R&D spending in the new year will be in line with 2022, which was roughly $9.5 billion.

BMS also expanded on a recent decision to terminate a phase 2 trial of the company’s anti-TIGIT med, BMS-986207, as part of a triple combination therapy with Yervoy and Opdivo due to safety reasons. Chief Medical Officer Samit Hirawat, M.D., said that toxicity was observed when tacked onto the immuno-oncology combo. Hirawat promised more data and specifics on what happened with the triple-combo, “but because of those safety reasons, we have decided to terminate this particular trial at this time.”

The decision pours additional cold water onto the anti-TIGIT class of immunotherapies, once-thought to be a rising star to replace the current generation of checkpoint inhibitors. But disappointing readouts from Roche last year made others reconsider their bets. Still, companies like Gilead, Novartis and GSK are pressing ahead as Roche waits for critical overall survival data.

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