UPDATED: ZAI Lab in-licenses BMS cancer candidate

ZAI Lab of Shanghai has in-licensed from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) China rights to the Phase III liver cancer drug brivanib, an oral kinase inhibitor for oncology indications including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

ZAI Lab will be responsible for developing, manufacturing and commercializing brivanib in China, though BMS will have an option to co-promote the drug.

ZAI will pay BMS development milestones and tiered royalties if brivanib is approved in China.

Earlier studies of brivanib in this patient population suggest it may be an effective therapy, prolonging time to progression to advanced disease for patients who have no other effective treatment options, according to the press release.

BMS is eligible for milestones and royalties, has the option to co-promote brivanib with Zai in China, and retains all rights to brivanib outside China. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

The global development of brivanib was halted by BMS in 2012 after it missed the primary endpoint of noninferiority to sorafenib in improving overall survival in the Phase III trial. BMS said the company does not have immediate plans to develop brivanib outside of China.

Zai said Phase III data showed "encouraging efficacy" signals and an "acceptable" safety profile among Chinese HCC patients. ZAI has a stated aim of looking to in-license novel compounds that target diseases prevalent in China and greater Asia.

- here's the ZAI Lab release (PDF)

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to add background.