Bristol-Myers Squibb has linked up with PDL BioPharma to develop the latter’s investigational multiple myeloma drug elotuzumab in a deal that could be worth as much as $710 million.

Under the terms of the collaboration, B-MS will make an upfront payment of $30 million for the development and marketing rights to elotuzumab, formerly known as HuLuc63. PDL could receive additional payments of up to $480 million based on development and regulatory milestones and up to $200 million based on sales for elotuzumab in multiple myeloma and other oncology indications.

Elotuzumab, which is in Phase I trials, is an antibody that binds to the CS1 glycoprotein, allowing the immune system to selectively kill myeloma cells with minimal effects on other cell types. There are currently no approved monoclonal antibodies on the market to treat MM, B-MS added.

The companies will share development costs, with B-MS providing 80% of the funding while PDL will complete the ongoing Phase I programme and provide support for Phase II studies. The companies will share profits on revenues from elozutumab in the USA and PDL would receive royalties on revenues from overseas sales.

The deal also includes an option to include PDL241, another anti-CS1 antibody, upon completion of preclinical studies. If exercised, PDL would receive an additional cash payment of $15 million and could get up to $230 million based on development and regulatory milestones, plus another $200 million based on sales.

Francis Cuss, senior vice president of discovery and exploratory clinical research at B-MS, said the collaboration will further strengthen our pipeline of agents targeting haematologic malignancies”, which includes Sprycel (dasatanib) for leukaemia and tanespimycin, an Hsp90 inhibitor that comes from the recent acquisition of Kosan Biosciences.