Bioniche Life Sciences has received its first milestone payment of $6 million from Endo Pharmaceuticals for its experimental bladder cancer drug. Canadian biopharmaceutical company Bioniche signed a licensing deal with Endo Pharma in July, in which Bioniche received an initial upfront payment of $20 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Pennsylvania-based Endo Pharma has exclusive rights to develop and market the drug Urocidin in the United States. Bioniche may eventually receive $110 million more by reaching certain clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones.
Urocidin is designed to treat non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, in which the cancer is confined to the surface layers of the bladder. The experimental drug works by stimulating immune response while promoting anticancer activity. It is delivered directly into the bladder using a catheter. Urocidin, which has been granted fast track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is currently in Phase III clinical trials. Bioniche did not disclose the reason for the $6 million payment.
Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., making the top ten for both men and women. It has the highest recurrence rate of any cancer, meaning that patients must be monitored for life. Approximately 70 percent of bladder cancer patients have the non-muscle-invasive form of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Peplin Limited and Viventia Biotech are two additional companies developing therapeutics for bladder cancer. Peplin Unlimited’s PEP005, a plant-based compound, has shown potential anticancer activity against bladder cancer in preclinical tests. Vicinium by Viventia is undergoing Phase II trials for the treatment of bladder cancer.