Bristol-Myers Squibb and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have formed a novel clinical research collaboration to evaluate multiple immunotherapies, including Opdivo (nivolumab), Yervoy (ipilimumab) and three early-stage clinical immuno-oncology assets from Bristol-Myers Squibb, as potential treatment options for acute and chronic leukemia as well as other hematologic malignancies.
The agreement represents an innovative approach to research by focusing numerous clinical trials using multiple agents, in mono and combination regimens, on a specific disease target, in this case select hematologic malignancies. Bristol-Myers Squibb and MD Anderson aim to benefit patients by expediting the delivery of new therapies.
The collaboration will launch up to 10 phase I and II clinical trials, conducted by MD Anderson, focused on evaluating investigational immune-based approaches for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and myelofibrosis (MF). Additional studies will be determined by the collaboration at a later date.
Opdivo (nivolumab) is an investigational PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor currently approved in Japan for the treatment of patients with unresectable melanoma, and Yervoy (ipilimumab) is a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor approved in the U.S. and more than 40 countries for patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. Bristol-Myers Squibb has proposed the name Opdivo, which, if approved by health authorities, will serve as the trademark for nivolumab.
“Collaborations between industry and academia can offer a faster and broader spectrum of clinical trials to benefit patients,” said Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., chair of leukemia at MD Anderson. “We hope innovative collaborations such as this can help lead to a higher likelihood for success across the board and will speed up the clinical development of new compounds for delivery to the patients who need them.”
Immuno-oncology is an innovative approach to cancer research and treatment that is designed to harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Hematologic malignancies represent significant areas of high unmet need marked by poor outcomes among the elderly, high-risk patients and for those with multiple relapses. Existing clinical research, including studies by MD Anderson, support further research into the potential of immunotherapies as treatment options for leukemia and other hematologic malignancies.