Bind Therapeutics Reels Pfizer into Nanomedicine Partnership

4/3/13Follow @xconomy

Cambridge, MA-based Bind Therapeutics changed its name earlier this week to ditch the word “biosciences,” because it wants to the show the world it’s not just all about science—it’s morphing into a science-based drug company. Now it has another deal with a very big drugmaker that could help it achieve that goal.

Bind is announcing today that it has struck a new partnership with New York-based Pfizer (NYSE: PFE). Terms of the relationship are being kept purposefully vague, as neither side is saying what therapeutic field they are pursuing. But the deal calls for Bind and Pfizer scientists to work together on combining Pfizer small molecules into Bind’s nanoparticle delivery technology, which is supposed to help drugs get more efficiently distributed through the body, and better targeted to diseased tissues.

Bind will get as much as $50 million in combined upfront and “near-term” development milestone payments, and stands to collect as much as $160 million for every drug development program that hits regulatory and sales milestones, plus royalties on sales, Bind CEO Scott Minick says. Pfizer isn’t getting any equity ownership in the company, he says.

Scott Minick, CEO of BIND Therapeutics

The partnership is the second deal Bind has done this year, after a collaboration it struck in January with Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), the biotech giant in Thousand Oaks, CA. The company, founded in 2006, has been busy in the past year, forming the two collaborations, and maneuvering its wholly-owned lead cancer drug program into mid-stage clinical trials. The company has grown to 35 employees, and plans to do some more hiring to help carry out some more of the work it will do as part of the Pfizer deal, Minick says.

“Pfizer is an outstanding company, they obviously have reviewed the technology from us and others,” Minick says. “I feel like we’ve gotten to an inflection point where Big Pharma and Big Biotech are embracing this technology.”

Bind will consider doing more partnerships, but it will have to be selective in what additional projects it takes on, Minick says. Bind’s scientists need to put in a considerable amount of work into each program to combine a partner’s small-molecule drug candidate into one of its nanoparticles that it calls “Accurins.”

“We really want to focus on delivering great results for our partners,” Minick says. “This is not just one of those things where you take the partner’s molecule, dump in magic recipe, and come out with an Accurin.” There’s work on optimizing the compounds, making sure they bind properly with ligands, he says. “It takes a real investment of resources to tune this to make it most effective,” he adds.

Like many big drugmakers, Pfizer has been a bit quiet on the partnering front lately, as it has sought to prune programs in its sprawling R&D portfolio and focus resources in areas where it sees the biggest opportunity. Nanoparticle drug delivery ended up making the cut internally about a year ago, which triggered serious partnership talks with Bind, Minick says.

“We first talked to them a couple years ago, and at the time, they told us they were evaluating this field,” Minick says. “They came back a little less than a year ago, and told us [nanomedicine] is now one of their top areas, and they told us they wanted to do something meaningful.”

Next up for Bind is a trip to Washington D.C. in a few days for the American Association for Cancer Research convention. The company’s lead drug candidate, BIND-014, will be highlighted in an oral presentation by Daniel Von Hoff, the highly respected cancer researcher at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

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