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Nektar Therapeutics and Bristol-Myers Squibb Announce U.S. FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Bempegaldesleukin (NKTR-214) in Combination with Opdivo® (nivolumab) for the Treatment of Patients with Untreated Advanced Melanoma

August 01, 2019 -- Nektar Therapeutics (Nasdaq: NKTR) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for investigational agent bempegaldesleukin (NKTR-214) in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo®(nivolumab) for the treatment of patients with previously untreated unresectable or metastatic melanoma. The Breakthrough Therapy Designation is based on clinical data which were recently reported at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting from the cohort of patients with metastatic melanoma that were treated with the doublet therapy in the ongoing PIVOT-02 Phase 1/2 clinical study.

FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation is intended to expedite the development and review of medicines aimed at treating a serious or life-threatening disease where there is preliminary clinical evidence that the investigational therapy may offer substantial improvement over existing therapies on at least one clinically significant endpoint.

Bempegaldesleukin, Nektar's lead immuno-oncology candidate, is an investigational CD122-preferential IL-2 pathway agonist designed to provide activation and proliferation of cancer-killing immune cells, known as CD8+ effector T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. A Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating bempegaldesleukin in combination with nivolumab versus nivolumab in first-line advanced melanoma patients is currently recruiting patients (NCT03635983). 

"In collaboration with our partner Bristol-Myers Squibb, we plan to work closely with FDA as we continue to advance our development program of bempegaldesleukin in combination with nivolumab in advanced melanoma patients," said Dr. Stephen Doberstein, SVP, Research and Development and Chief R&D Officer of Nektar Therapeutics. "Our teams are encouraged by the deepening of responses we observed in patients with previously untreated advanced melanoma who received the doublet therapy in our PIVOT-02 study. We look forward to continuing to provide updated results at a future medical meeting as the data mature further in this ongoing cohort of melanoma patients."

In February 2018, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Nektar executed a global strategic development and commercialization collaboration for bempegaldesleukin.

About Bempegaldesleukin (NKTR-214)

Bempegaldesleukin is designed to stimulate cancer-killing immune cells in the body by targeting CD122 receptors found on the surface of these immune cells. CD122, which is also known as the Interleukin-2 receptor beta subunit, is a key signaling receptor that is known to increase proliferation of these effector T cells.1 In clinical and preclinical studies, treatment with bempegaldesleukin resulted in expansion of these cells and mobilization into the tumor micro-environment.2,3

About Nektar

Nektar Therapeutics is a research-based, development stage biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover and develop innovative medicines to address the unmet medical needs of patients. Our R&D pipeline of new investigational medicines includes treatments for cancer, autoimmune disease and chronic pain. We leverage Nektar's proprietary and proven chemistry platform in the discovery and design of our new therapeutic candidates. Nektar is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with additional operations in Huntsville, Alabama and Hyderabad, India. Further information about the company and its drug development programs and capabilities may be found online at http://www.nektar.com.

Bristol-Myers Squibb: Advancing Oncology Research

At Bristol-Myers Squibb, patients are at the center of everything we do. The focus of our research is to increase quality, long-term survival for patients and make cure a possibility. Through a unique multidisciplinary approach powered by translational science, we harness our deep scientific experience in oncology and Immuno-Oncology (I-O) research to identify novel treatments tailored to individual patient needs. Our researchers are developing a diverse, purposefully built pipeline designed to target different immune system pathways and address the complex and specific interactions between the tumor, its microenvironment and the immune system. We source innovation internally, and in collaboration with academia, government, advocacy groups and biotechnology companies, to help make the promise of transformational medicines, like I-O, a reality for patients.

About Opdivo

Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to uniquely harness the body's own immune system to help restore anti-tumor immune response. By harnessing the body's own immune system to fight cancer, Opdivo has become an important treatment option across multiple cancers.

Opdivo's leading global development program is based on Bristol-Myers Squibb's scientific expertise in the field of Immuno-Oncology, and includes a broad range of clinical trials across all phases, including Phase 3, in a variety of tumor types. To date, the Opdivo clinical development program has treated more than 35,000 patients. The Opdivo trials have contributed to gaining a deeper understanding of the potential role of biomarkers in patient care, particularly regarding how patients may benefit from Opdivo across the continuum of PD-L1 expression.

In July 2014, Opdivo was the first PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world. Opdivo is currently approved in more than 65 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Japan and China. In October 2015, the Company's Opdivo and Yervoy combination regimen was the first Immuno-Oncology combination to receive regulatory approval for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and is currently approved in more than 60 countries, including the United States and the European Union.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit us at BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding, among other things, the research, development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products. All statements that are not statements of historical facts are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on historical performance and current expectations and projections about our future financial results, goals, plans and objectives and involve inherent risks, assumptions and uncertainties, including internal or external factors that could delay, divert or change any of them in the next several years, that are difficult to predict, may be beyond our control and could cause our future financial results, goals, plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the statements. These risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors include, among others, that future study results will be consistent with the results to date, that Opdivo, alone or in combination with bempegaldesleukin, may not achieve their primary study endpoints or receive regulatory approval for the additional indication described in this release in the currently anticipated timeline or at all and, if approved, whether such product candidate or combination treatment for such additional indication described in this release will be commercially successful. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. It should also be noted that Breakthrough Therapy Designation does not change the standards for FDA approval. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many risks and uncertainties that affect Bristol-Myers Squibb's business and market, particularly those identified in the cautionary statement and risk factors discussion in Bristol-Myers Squibb's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018, as updated by our subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements included in this document are made only as of the date of this document and except as otherwise required by applicable law, Bristol-Myers Squibb undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.

Nektar Forward-Looking Statements 
This press release contains forward-looking statements which can be identified by words such as: "may," "plan," "continue," "designed" and similar references to future periods. Examples of forward-looking statements include, among others, statements we make regarding the therapeutic potential of bempegaldesleukin (NKTR-214) in combination with nivolumab, the availability of results and outcomes from clinical studies involving bempegaldesleukin, and our future clinical development plans. Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurances of future performance. Instead, they are based only on our current beliefs, expectations and assumptions regarding the future of our business, future plans and strategies, anticipated events and trends, and other future conditions. Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict and many of which are outside of our control. Our actual results may differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, you should not rely on any of these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements include, among others: (i) our statements regarding the therapeutic potential of bempegaldesleukin are based on preclinical and clinical findings and observations to date from ongoing clinical studies; (ii) bempegaldesleukin is in early stage clinical development and the risk of failure remains high and failure can unexpectedly occur at any stage for one or more of the cancer indications being studied prior to regulatory approval due to lack of sufficient efficacy, safety considerations or other factors that negatively impact drug development; (iii) data reported from ongoing clinical trials is necessarily interim data only and the final results will change based on continuing observations from patients that currently remain enrolled in the trials and/or new observations from patients enrolling in the trials; (iv) scientific discovery of new medical breakthroughs is an inherently uncertain process and the future success of potential new drug candidates (such as bempegaldesleukin) is therefore very uncertain and unpredictable; (v) patents may not issue from our patent applications for our drug candidates, patents that have issued may not be enforceable, or additional intellectual property licenses from third parties may be required; and (vi) certain other important risks and uncertainties set forth in Nektar's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 9, 2019. Any forward-looking statement made by us in this press release is based only on information currently available to us and speaks only as of the date on which it is made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

1 Boyman, J., et al., Nature Reviews Immunology, 2012, 12, 180-190.
2 Charych, D., et al., Clin Can Res; 22(3) February 1, 2016
3 Diab, A., et al., Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer 2016, 4(Suppl 1): P369

Source: Bristol-Myers Squibb

Posted: August 2019

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