BMS hands immunotherapy program back to Dragonfly

Feb. 6, 2023

Dragonfly Therapeutics announced that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back the rights to develop Dragonfly's phase 1 novel interleukin-12 (IL-12) cytokine investigational immunotherapy program.

According to the Massachusetts-based biotech, clinical development is currently being carried out by BMS, but will be transferred to Dragonfly over the coming weeks.

The license deal, originally inked back in Aug. 2020 involved BMS paying nearly half a billion dollars in upfront and near-term payments to license the early-stage immunotherapy program. The deal’s centerpiece was DF6002, a version of IL-12 that Dragonfly engineered to last longer in the body. Dragonfly designed the drug candidate, a type of protein known as a cytokine, to make it easier for the immune system to attack tumors by changing the composition of the tumor microenvironment.

No specifics were shared as to why BMS walked away from the program. Last week, during the company's s fourth-quarter earnings release, BMS cut six cancer prospects, including two immunology assets, from its pipeline. 

But Dragonfly seems more than happy to have the program back, touting the encouraging profile seen in preclinical models and in the clinic to date. The company says it plans to accelerate DF6002's development across a range of indications and combinations.