Yale Office of Cooperative Research is co-winner of award for AIDs drug deal

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A licensing agreement that could lead to the commercialization of a promising new HIV drug co-invented by Yale has received a Licensing Executives Society (LES) Deals of Distinction Award, the society announced Oct. 19 at its annual meeting in San Diego.

A team at the Yale Office of Cooperative Research headed by David Lewin, senior associate director of licensing, licensed the compound (festinavir) to Oncolys in 2006 and in 2010 renegotiated the Yale-Oncolys license to help pave the way for a global sub-license agreement between Oncolys BioPharma and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, a complex transaction valued at $286 million.

The compound, now known as BMS-986001, is an orally available nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) in Phase II development for HIV. Early preclinical studies suggest that the compound could have an improved safety profile over previous generations of NRTIs.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, Oncolys Biopharma, and Yale have anticipated the need for access to BMS-986001 and the agreement contains provisions designed to promote access in nations with developing economies.

“The relationships show how the intellectual capital discovered in academia, matured in biotech, and transitioned to pharma can be translated into potential treatments for millions of people by leveraging the strengths of each institution,” Lewin said.

“The negotiations required crossing time zone, cultural, and language boundaries, and tested the perseverance of all parties involved,” said Cheryl Cejka, sector chair of the Industry/University and Government Laboratory Transactions sector of the LES. “In addition, the transaction illustrates the integral relationship between academia, biotech, and pharma,”

The compound is based on research done in the Yale laboratory of Yung-Chi “Tommy” Cheng, Henry Bronson professor of pharmacology, and co-inventors from two Japanese academic institutions, Prof. Hiromichi Tanaka of Showa University and Prof. Masanori Baba of Kagoshima University.

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