Bristol-Myers Squibb and Nektar Therapeutics are working together to develop a cancer therapy that can be used in combination with BMS’s immune checkpoint inhibitors. They are looking at Nektar’s drug, NKTR-214, which it is hoped can be used in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat more than 20 types of cancer.
NKTR-214 targets CD122, a receptor found on the surface of immune T cells and natural killer cells. Stimulating this receptor causes the T cells and natural killer cells to multiply rapidly and move into tumours, where they destroy the cancer cells. NKTR-214 also increases targeting of the PD-1 receptor found on cancer cells by the immune cells, making it a promising therapy to be used in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors, which block the PD-1 receptor to make the cancer cells ‘visible’ to the immune cells.
The companies plan to investigate NKTR-214 plus nivolumab (Opdivo) and NKTR-214 plus nivolumab and ipilimumab (Yervoy) for the treatment of melanoma, kidney cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and other malignancies. They will also look at combining NKRT-214 with other cancer therapies that each company is developing.
Pivotal clinical trials in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and melanoma are expected to start in mid-2018.