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Exelixis, Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology Deal Yields First Targets

NEW YORK, Dec. 13 - Exelixis and Bristol-Myers Squibb said they have identified and selected the first small molecule cancer targets to result from a broad oncology collaboration announced five months ago.

Exelixis, which uses invertebrate and vertebrate gene knockout models to study how certain genes interact in cancer cells to identify particular genes that help suppress tumor growth, said it had identified ways that tumor cells “evade normal growth control mechanisms.”

The targets Exelixis discovered come from genes that interact with the p53 tumor suppressor and will now become the focus of drug discovery efforts at both Exelixis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

"We are excited by the identification of new and potentially druggable mechanisms by which tumor suppressors function in the deregulated growth of tumors," Robert Kramer, head of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Lawrenceville biology site.

In July, the two companies entered into a far-reaching oncology collaboration. Bristol-Myers made a $20 million equity investment in Exelixis, and a $5 million upfront payment from Bristol-Myers for Exelixis' functional genomics services. As a result of the transaction Bristol-Myers acquired 600,600 shares of Exelixis stock, or about one percent of the outstanding shares.

In addition, Bristol-Myers agreed to pay Exelixis $3 million a year for at least three years.

Each company has the option to obtain worldwide rights to equal numbers of validated targets arising from the collaboration.

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