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BIND’s Accurin Platform Lands $200M AstraZeneca Partnership

By Jennifer Boggs
Managing Editor

Continuing a flurry of 2013 dealmaking, nanomedicine firm BIND Therapeutics Inc. kicked off the BIO International Convention with a potential $199 million-plus deal with AstraZeneca plc to develop and commercialize an Accurin therapeutic based on a molecular targeted kinase inhibitor.

Cambridge, Mass.-based BIND nailed down that partnership only weeks after inking a deal with Pfizer Inc. valued at more than $210 million and about three months after signing Amgen Inc. to a $180.5 million collaboration involving its Accurin platform. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 9, 2013, and April 4, 2013.)

That much activity “tells you everything you need to know about the promise of the technology,” said BIND CEO Scott Minick, though he also gave props to Dan Koerwer, the firm’s head of marketing and business development, who he said deserves a “shrine in the BD hall of fame; in 102 days, we’re approaching $1 billion in deals.”

The AstraZeneca collaboration will operate a little differently than the Amgen and Pfizer deals, mainly because the London-based big pharma already has taken BIND’s technology for a test drive. The firms started a feasibility study about a year ago. “They’ve actually been working with us side by side,” Minick told BioWorld Today, “and got to use their own data with their own molecule to make a decision.”

That means the program is a step closer to the clinic. Timing is up to AstraZeneca, which will take lead on development and commercialization. BIND will develop the Accurin and do the initial screening and will work with AstraZeneca on pre-investigational new drug application activities, then will handle manufacturing during the development phase.

Under the terms, BIND will get up-front and pre-approval milestone payments totaling $69 million and could get more than $130 million in regulatory and sales milestones. Other payments could come on top of that, along with tiered single- to double-digit royalties on product sales.

While good news for BIND, the recent spate of deals also is a positive sign for nanomedicine, a space that had some early success – first-generation nanomedicine Doxil, a pegylated liposome-encapsulated form of doxorubicin, is an example – but has been waylaid by design issues that have limited the impact of the targeted delivery approach.

Now, however, the promise of nanomedicine has “reached an inflection point,” Minick said. “This is no longer theoretical future technology; this is here and now.”

BIND’s Accurin platform is designed to target cytotoxic drugs such as docetaxel at the molecular level to cancer cells, thereby minimizing toxic effects on healthy cells. The approach involves three levels: targeting ligands that recognize disease-associated cell surface proteins or receptors coat the outside of the Accurin particle; a “stealth” layer protects the targeted Accurin particles from detection by the immune system; and a matrix of biocompatible polymers encapsulates the therapeutic payload for release at the site of disease.

The company has had early success with its lead internal program, BIND-014, a prostate-specific membrane antigen-targeted docetaxel compound, in development for non-small-cell lung cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer. A presentation of Phase I data at the recent American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in Washington showed that the drug was safe and well tolerated at the maximum tolerated dose of 60 mg/m2, with signs of antitumor activity, including one complete response, three partial responses and five patients with stable disease lasting at least four cycles.

“It says a lot that AACR invited us to present Phase I data,” Minick said, noting that such early stage results usually are limited to posters.

Minick will be in Chicago this week, not that the firm, with its three recent deals, is in need of many more partners. “We [want to] only do a limited number of these in the near-term,” he said.

Nor is BIND desperate for investment. BIND, which was founded in 2007 based in work by MIT professor Robert Langer and Harvard Medical School assistant professor Omid Farokhzad, has raised nearly $90 million in venture funding. The most recent round, which pulled in $47.25 million in 2011, involved a hefty investment from Russian nanotechnology investor Rusnano. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 28, 2011.)

But “there are still other people who want to talk to us,” Minick said. “We’ve shown the potential of the technology; now we have the responsibility to get the best clinical impact.”