With two major collaborations struck in the first 14 weeks of the year, the nanomedicine company Bind Therapeutics might figure prominently in 2013 deal-making reviews. Following a January deal with Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), this week the private Massachusetts group signed an option deal with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) to develop multiple small molecule-based candidates that could see the smaller partner receive up to $210m for each product that makes it to the market.
Bind's chief executive, Scott Minick, tells EP Vantage he believes that the field of nanoengineered medicine has hit an “inflection point” after the analysis of early clinical data on Bind’s in-house docetaxel-based product, BIND-014. “The fact that these two deals happened in rapid succession tells you that very smart people who have a very sophisticated understanding of both the technology as well as the clinical need understand that nanomedicine is a strategic technology for the industry,” he says.
“A number of the big pharmaceutical companies have been watching closely the evolution of nanomedicine. With any new technology it’s always a judgement call: what’s the right time? You don’t want to be too early and find you’re selecting a technology that doesn’t work. And you don’t want to be too late because others will have a leadership position.”
Repurposing medicines through targeted delivery or extended-release formulations is a well-trodden path in the pharmaceutical sector. The difference with nanomedicine as practiced by Bind is in the approach: wrapping a therapeutic molecule inside an advanced material to achieve treatment goals.
Bind’s technology creates candidates it calls Accurins, which surround active pharmaceutical ingredients with a capsule that contains targeting ligands and a resorbable shell that can disintegrate on a site- or disease-specific basis. A surface layer of polyethylene glycol attracts water, and makes the drug appear to immune cells as a water droplet, and thus evades the body’s resistance mechanisms.
Early data from a phase I dose-escalation trial published at the 2012 AACR meeting showed preliminary evidence of antitumour activity in 17 patients with different forms of the disease. Partial response was confirmed in a cervical cancer patient, while five others showed signs of disease stabilisation, in pancreatic, colorectal, bile duct, tonsillar and anal cancers.
Bind is presenting full data from the phase I programme at the 2013 AACR meeting next week. Phase II studies are just now getting under way, Mr Minick says.
Having raised more than $70m in venture funding since 2007, including a $35m series D in 2011 – backers include Polaris Venture Partners and ARCH Venture Partners - Bind is in a good position to continue developing its pipeline without external partnership revenue, Mr Minick says.
“The value of these partnerships is that they enable us to further develop our platform and extend it into new areas,” he says. “We view it as an opportunity to work in different therapeutic areas, different types of cancer, different drug molecules, and different targeting ligands. It enables us to broaden the platform in a number of important directions.”
The Amgen partnership, for which Bind could be eligible for $46.5m in up-front and development milestones and another $134m in regulatory and sales milestones, is to test an undisclosed proprietary kinase inhibitor in conjunction with the Accurin technology in solid tumour indications.
In the case of Pfizer, the parties disclosed little about the base molecule or the indications being pursued. That deal has the potential to earn the company $50m in up-front and development milestones and $160m in regulatory and sales milestones for each product that enters the clinic. Pfizer has previously developed blockbusters in all of the disease areas noted by Mr Minick.
Having big pharma and big biotech interest is a feather in the cap for any small company trying to develop a new technology; a partnered clinical-stage candidate would be a step closer to validation. Further clinical success from Bind’s proprietary pipeline, or initiation of trials on a partnered candidate, would probably mean the group will not remain private or independent for long.
But Bind is reaching a decisive stage in its development. A stumble from ‘014 or collaborations that turn out to be dry holes could mean a significantly longer journey to an exit for its investors. Its backers will be eagerly awaiting the results.