Bristol-Myers Squibb and England's PsiOxus Therapeutics have announced a deal to work together on a new combination therapy targeting several different tumour types in late-stage cancer patients.

Under the exclusive clinical collaboration agreement, the firms plan to assess the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of PsiOxus' enadenotucirev, a systemically administered oncolytic adenovirus therapeutic, in combination with BMS' immuno-oncology agent Opdivo (nivolumab).

Enadenotucirev is designed to have immune stimulating effects while Opdivo is designed to alleviate immune suppression. Phase I studies should determine if combining these two agents can significantly boost the proportion of patients achieving objective tumour responses, the extent of tumour shrinkage, and/or the durability of responses.

"This collaboration continues to expand our clinical development of Opdivo and explores how oncolytic viruses may provide a complementary mechanism to address tumours that are resistant to immuno-oncology therapy," said Jean Viallet, global clinical research lead, Oncology, at BMS.

Under the terms of the deal, BMS will make a one-time upfront payment of $10 million to PsiOxus, and the parties will share development costs. PsiOxus will be responsible for conducting the Phase I study with patient recruitment expected to start in the third quarter of 2016.