GlaxoSmithKline has pulled out of a five-year deal with US biotech Five Prime for the development of its experimental cancer therapy FP-1039.  

Five Prime said it had been given 180-day notice of termination of the license and collaboration agreement by GSK, and now plans to work with the drugs giant to ensure enrolment in the ongoing mesothelioma arm of the Phase Ib study is completed.  

Rights to FP-1039 for the US, Canada, and European Union, were sold in March 2011 to Human Genome Sciences, which was subsequently bought by GSK in 2012 for $3 billion. 

But in another set back earlier this year, Five Prime and GSK pulled the plug on a trial evaluating the drug for squamous non-small cell lung cancer trial, citing change in treatment paradigms due because of the rise of immuno-oncology agents and other competition in the market.

The reasons behind the GSK’s departure from FP-1039 have not been revealed, but Five Prime was quick to stress that it “continues to be encouraged” by the progress of the ongoing trial and that mesothelioma “could represent a potentially attractive market opportunity”.  

The US biotech still has another pharma major on its books, having signed a £1.74-billion worldwide license and collaboration deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb last year for its colony stimulating factor 1 receptor antibody programme, which is being developed in certain immunology and oncology indications.