Bristol-Myers Squibb has expanded its pact with China's Simcere Pharmaceutical Group to include development of a compound for cardiovascular disease.

In November last year, the companies linked up to develop a preclinical cancer drug and will now work together on BMS-795311, B-MS’s preclinical small molecule inhibitor of the cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP). Inhibiting CETP could potentially raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

Under the terms of the agreement, Simcere will receive exclusive rights to develop the drug in China and will run and fund initial development work. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Francis Cuss, head of research at B-MS, said that Simcere was the first company with which his firm created a partnership under its 'oyster strategy' "to seed companies in key markets with promising investigational medicines of continued interest from our early pipeline". That partnership, focused on the oncology compound, "has gone extremely well and we are excited to expand our relationship to include a second collaboration in another therapeutic area".