[OncoMed's] latest accomplishment is another early stage deal, this time with Bayer Schering Pharma AG, to develop drugs targeting the Wnt signaling pathway. It's an agreement that brings $40 million up front, with the potential for more than $1 billion in future milestones.
The Wnt pathway is believed to be a key target in halting cancer stem cell activity. But only a few other firms - Avalon Pharmaceuticals Inc. (now part of Clinical Data Inc.) and 2008 start-up Wintherix LLC, for example - have entered that space, largely because Wnt is not an easily druggable target.News release from Bayer: Bayer Schering Pharma and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Enter Strategic Alliance to Develop Anti-Cancer Stem Cell Therapeutics, June 17, 2010. Excerpt:
Bayer Schering Pharma AG, Germany, and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., today announced a global strategic alliance to discover, develop and commercialize novel anti-cancer stem cell therapeutics targeting the Wnt signaling pathway. Cancer stem cells are a subset of tumor cells believed to play a significant role in the establishment, metastasis and recurrence of cancer and agents targeting the Wnt pathway have the potential to be developed as pan-tumor drugs.Comment: The Bayer-OncoMed strategic alliance has received attention via the social media. See, for example, the results of this FriendFeed search.