Bristol-Myers Squibb started a new collaboration with Nektar Therapautics

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Nektar Therapeutics announced a new clinical collaboration to evaluate Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) with Nektar’s investigational medicine, NKTR-214, as a potential combination treatment regimen in five tumor types and seven potential indications.

Opdivo is a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor designed to overcome immune suppression. NKTR-214 is an investigational immuno-stimulatory therapy designed to expand specific cancer-fighting T cells and natural killer (NK) cells directly in the tumor micro-environment and increase expression of PD-1 on these immune cells.

The Phase 1/2 clinical trials will evaluate the potential for the combination of Opdivo and NKTR-214 to show improved and sustained efficacy and tolerability above the current standard of care in melanoma, kidney, colorectal, bladder and non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Opdivo was the first PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world in July 2014, and currently has regulatory approval in 54 countries including the United States, Japan, and in the European Union.

Under the terms of the agreement, Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay Nektar $1 billion in cash and buy $850 million — about 8.3 million shares, or 5 percent — of Nektar stock. The transaction is one of the largest up-front payments for an oncology product in the pharmaceutical industry.