BMS buys Orum Therapeutics’ ADC protein degrader for up to $180 million

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Antibody drug conjugates Oncology blood cancers Bristol Myers Squibb Research funding

The big pharma company Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) committed up to $180 million for a phase 1-ready antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) for the treatment of blood cancer from the U.S.-South Korean biotech company Orum Therapeutics.

The ADC, called ORM-6151, consists of a first-in-class antibody targeting the antigen CD33 that carries a small molecule designed to kill tumor cells by triggering the degradation of a protein called GSPT1. The candidate treatment has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin phase 1 testing in patients with the blood cancers acute myeloid leukemia or high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes.

Under the deal terms, Orum is eligible for $100 million upfront in addition to milestone payments with further details undisclosed.

Orum is a specialist in the field of targeted protein degradation (TPD), where a treatment activates the cell’s disposal mechanisms to destroy proteins that are hard to target with existing drugs. Existing TPD molecules are typically small molecule treatments that can enter any cells, including healthy cells, and have off-target effects.

Orum is working to overcome this limitation by pairing small molecule degraders with highly targeted antibody drugs in the format of an ADC, ensuring that the payload is selectively deployed in cancer cells. This means the drug can be more effective while causing fewer side effects than current approaches.

“We believe this agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb, a global leader in cancer with a strong legacy in protein degradation, validates Orum’s unique Dual-Precision Targeted Protein Degradation approach, which we pioneered to improve the therapeutic window and realize the full potential of targeted protein degraders through precision delivery to cancer cells via antibody drug conjugates,” said Sung Joo Lee, CEO of Orum Therapeutics, in a public statement​.

Orum’s lead candidate therapy, ORM-5029, is in phase 1 testing for the treatment of breast cancer. Additionally, the company has several candidates in preclinical development for the treatment of tumors including small cell lung cancer.

Orum’s approach attracted investors in June 2021 when the company closed a Series B round at $84 million.

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