Bristol Myers deepens ADC pipeline in $1B+ biobuck pact with Munich startup


Most of the antibody-drug conjugate talk lately has been centered around Pfizer’s $43 billion deal with Seagen, but Bristol Myers Squibb is looking to up its game in the field by inking a modest upfront for work out of a German biotech.

The Big Pharma will pay $22.75 million to Munich-based Tubulis to snag exclusive rights to the startup’s platform to make ADCs for solid tumors. BMS will choose antibody targets and Tubulis will then hand over linker-payloads from its platform to create a matching ADC.

In exchange for more than $1 billion in milestones, BMS will develop, manufacture and, if approved, commercialize the undisclosed number of ADC candidates.

Working off a $63 million Series B disclosed last May, Tubulis set out to find its first partner and was able to attract BMS, which has a sort of complicated web in the ADC field. There’s a Celgene-era tie-up with Sutro Biopharma focused on BCMA; a more than $3 billion bet on an Eisai collaboration; and a Claudin 18.2-directed ADC by way of its Turning Point acquisition (who itself nabbed the asset from LaNova Medicines).

While it gets to work on the BMS pact, Tubulis CEO and co-founder Dominik Schumacher says the startup is “currently in the process of partnering” its CD30-targeted TUB-010 program for T-cell and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The 35-employee biotech wants to focus its internal pipeline on solid tumors, for which it has four programs against undisclosed targets on its website.

Tubulis’ goal is to reduce target-independent toxicities and develop ADCs that are more stable using a new type of chemistry, P5, in its conjugation platform.

ADCs have caught the attention of many Big Pharmas in recent years and a BioNTech pact earlier this month. Pfizer is buying the pioneer, Seagen, which has attracted interest for years. AstraZeneca and partner Daiichi Sankyo are making waves in new forms of breast cancer. Johnson & Johnson has bet on Mersana Therapeutics. ADCs are also marketed by Roche (Kadcyla), ADC Therapeutics (Zynlonta) and others.…