Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has opted-in to an exclusive global license for Evotec’s neurodegenerative drug EVT8683.

The deal is the first programme to emerge from the two companies’ collaboration in neurodegeneration, which was initiated in 2016. Evotec originally signed the collaboration deal with Celgene, which was subsequently acquired by BMS in 2019.

EVT8683 is a small molecule targeting a key cellular stress response which has the potential to deliver disease-modifying treatments for several neurodegenerative diseases. The EVT8683 programme originates from a phenotypic screen conducted by Evotec using its IPSC (induced pluripotent stem cell) drug discovery platform.

Under the terms of the deal, Evotec has received an option payment of $20 m and is eligible to earn up to $250m in milestone payments.

Cord Dohrmann, chief scientific officer of Evotec, commented: “We are very excited to bring a first drug candidate which originated from Evotec’s iPSC discovery platform into the clinic. EVT8683 is targeting a highly promising mechanism of the cellular stress response and has already demonstrated a very compelling pre-clinical efficacy and safety profile.

Richard Hargreaves, senior vice president of BMS’s Neuroscience Thematic Research Centre, added: “Targeting one of the mechanisms which may play a key role within neurodegeneration makes us hopeful that our further development of the program may result in providing treatments for many people suffering from these devastating neurological disorders. Based on Evotec’s scientific expertise and seamless integration, we are delighted to continue development of this clinical candidate.”