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Pfizer 'BINDS' to Accurins in Potential $210M-Plus Deal

bind_april_4_2013.jpg

By Marie Powers
Staff Writer

Privately held BIND Therapeutics Inc. didn't let the dust settle after a potential $180.5 million deal with Amgen Inc. in January. Wednesday morning, the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech revealed that Pfizer Inc. sealed an even bigger global collaboration to develop and commercialize multiple Accurins in small-molecule targeted therapies.

The Pfizer deal goes a step further than the Amgen agreement, which involved the development of a nanotechnology-based therapeutic for solid tumors, with up-front and development milestones totaling $46.5 million plus $134 million in potential regulatory and sales milestones for the first therapeutic indication. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 9, 2013.)

New York-based Pfizer took an exclusive option to develop and commercialize multiple Accurins following collaborative preclinical research between the partners. If Pfizer exercises its option, the pharma will assume responsibility to develop and commercialize the selected Accurins, with BIND potentially receiving up-front and development milestone payments of approximately $50 million and regulatory and sales milestones of approximately $160 million for each commercialized Accurin, plus tiered sales royalties.

In addition to the economics, BIND's ability to attract a second major partner to its medicinal nanoengineering platform represents solid validation for the biotech, launched in 2006 by prolific scientists and entrepreneurs Robert Langer, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Omid Farokhzad, of Harvard Medical School.

While attending a J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference several years ago, the BIND principals met with "a very senior team" from Pfizer, recalled Scott Minick, BIND's president and CEO. "They clearly understood the potential of the technology," Minick told BioWorld Today.

Some time passed, while Pfizer assessed its pipeline and reviewed "potential game changers on the horizon," Minick added. "In the next meeting we had, nanomedicine had risen to the top of their priority list."

The companies then began a series of discussions about where the BIND technology would have the greatest application to Pfizer and, specifically, "how we might work together," he said.

Going forward, Pfizer will supply BIND with specific molecules, and the BIND team will then develop Accurins. The company's "triple-targeted" technology incorporates a programmable, controlled-release polymer "backbone," a protective stealth layer that shields the nanoparticles from the immune system and targeting ligands on the surface that recognize and bind to disease-associated cell surface proteins or receptors. The therapeutic payload may include small molecules, peptides, proteins and/or nucleic acids.

The technology results in the delivery of higher concentrations of active ingredient to the site of disease activity while minimizing off-target exposure, leading to improved efficacy and safety.

Collaborations Boost Presence of Nanomedicine

Conceptually, both the Amgen and Pfizer partnerships focus on translating the promise of BIND's platform into therapeutics that selectively target diseased cells and tissues. But "the Amgen deal was really for a single drug," Minick said. "In the case of Pfizer, we'll be working on more than one Accurin at the same time. On a per-molecule basis, the economics are in a similar ballpark, but the total size of the Pfizer deal will be significantly larger and will require additional resources on our part."

For that reason, BIND doesn't intend to maintain its blistering partnering pace.

"Having two major partnerships in addition to our internal programs, our team is very well occupied," Minick said. "We want to do a great job both with our own drugs as well as with our partners, so there are a limited number of these kinds of deals that we want to do at any point in time. We're very selective."

BIND is investigating BIND-014, a prostate-specific membrane antigen-targeted docetaxel, in non-small-cell lung cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer. The company previously disclosed that a Phase I study in heavily pretreated patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors suggested the compound was generally safe and well tolerated, with encouraging signs of antitumor activity. BIND plans to present additional data next week at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Washington.

Partnerships not only provide nondilutive funding but also help BIND to diversify its platform.

"In both cases, these are world-leading companies that have very exciting molecules," Minick said. "We wouldn't have any way to get into these classes of drugs on our own."

The deals also suggest the long-heralded potential of nanomedicine is beginning to demonstrate results in the clinic, with BIND positioned near the head of the class.

"When you see both Pfizer and Amgen – which are visionary, pioneering companies – adopting these technologies in a major way with significant deals, it tells you the time for this technology has clearly arrived," Minick said. "We see great promise in terms of the potential nanomedicines we could produce together."