As gener­ic com­pe­ti­tion stut­ter sales of top on­col­o­gy drugs, Roche se­cures speedy re­view for pair of ex­per­i­men­tal can­cer of­fer­ings

As drug de­vel­op­ers seek ways to ex­pand ther­a­peu­tic ap­pli­ca­tions and over­come the hur­dles seen with the first gen­er­a­tion of an­ti­body drug con­ju­gates (AD­Cs), Roche is cap­i­tal­iz­ing on its tro­jan horse ADC — pow­ered by Seat­tle Ge­net­ics’ tech­nol­o­gy — as gener­ics eat in­to the sales of its tri­fec­ta of top can­cer drugs. On Tues­day, the Swiss drug­mak­er said its an­ti-CD79b ADC — po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin — had won the FDA’s pri­or­i­ty re­view for use in pa­tients with re­lapsed or re­frac­to­ry dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma (DL­B­CL), a field that is with­in the clutch of CAR-T ther­a­pies.

The FDA is ex­pect­ed to make its de­ci­sion by Au­gust 19, Roche said on Tues­day.

Po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin is be­ing re­viewed by the reg­u­la­tor when added to ben­damus­tine and Rit­ux­an (BR). The triplet had pre­vi­ous­ly se­cured break­through ther­a­py sta­tus. The pri­or­i­ty re­view was grant­ed on the ba­sis of an 80-pa­tient study in heav­i­ly pre-treat­ed sub­jects that showed the com­bo eclipsed me­di­an over­all sur­vival (an ex­plorato­ry end­point) com­pared to BR alone, help­ing pa­tients live longer by 12.4 months ver­sus 4.7 months. Da­ta al­so showed 40% of peo­ple treat­ed with po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin plus BR achieved a com­plete re­sponse (CR), while on­ly 18% of peo­ple treat­ed with BR alone achieved a CR.

The CD79b pro­tein is ex­pressed in the ma­jor­i­ty of types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lym­phomas, the most com­mon sub­type of NHL. Al­though pa­tients are gen­er­al­ly re­spon­sive to first­line treat­ment, as many as 40% of pa­tients re­lapse, af­ter which op­tions are lim­it­ed and sur­vival is short. Po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin, which is be­ing test­ed for use in sev­er­al types of NHL, binds to CD79b and dec­i­mates B-cells via a tar­get­ed ap­proach: min­i­miz­ing the ef­fects on healthy cells while max­i­miz­ing tu­mour cell death, us­ing ADC tech that is some­times likened to a tro­jan horse as it is en­gi­neered to go un­no­ticed, de­liv­er­ing chemother­a­pies to cells ex­press­ing the anti­gen tar­get.

Sep­a­rate­ly, Roche has al­so won a pri­or­i­ty re­view for en­trec­tinib, a drug for use in neu­rotroph­ic tropomyosin re­cep­tor ki­nase (NTRK) fu­sion-pos­i­tive, lo­cal­ly ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic sol­id tu­mors in pa­tients whose can­cer has pro­gressed de­spite ther­a­py as well as pa­tients with metasta­t­ic ROS-1 pos­i­tive non-small cell lung can­cer (NSCLC).

The FDA is ex­pect­ed to make its de­ci­sion on the drug, which has pre­vi­ous­ly se­cured break­through ther­a­py sta­tus, by Au­gust 18, Roche said.

Roche, which bagged en­trec­tinib late in 2017 with its $1.7 bil­lion Igny­ta buy­out, hopes the drug will fare well ver­sus Bay­er’s Vi­t­rakvi — the first drug ap­proved by the FDA for NTRK fu­sion can­cers and the run­ner up ’tis­sue ag­nos­tic’ can­cer treat­ment that won the US reg­u­la­to­ry nod. With­in NSCLC, en­trec­tinib will be up against Pfiz­er’s Xalko­ri, which is the stan­dard treat­ment in ROS-1 pos­i­tive pa­tients.

J&J gets a fresh OK for es­ke­t­a­mine, but is it re­al­ly the game-chang­er for de­pres­sion Trump keeps tweet­ing about?

Backed by an enthusiastic set of tweets from President Trump and a landmark OK for depression, J&J scooped up a new approval from the FDA for Spravato today. But this latest advance will likely bring fresh scrutiny to a drug that’s spurred some serious questions about the data, as well as the price.

First, the approval.

Regulators stamped their OK on the use of Spravato — developed as esketamine, a nasal spray version of the party drug Special K or ketamine — for patients suffering from major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

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FDA hands Mor­phoSys and In­cyte a quick OK on their po­ten­tial block­buster CAR-T al­ter­na­tive

Nearly three years after okaying the CAR-Ts Yescarta and Kymriah, the FDA has approved a new CD19 therapy.

MorphoSys’ Monjuvi, or tafasitamab-cxix, was cleared Friday for use in refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DBLCL). The approval sets up both MorphoSys and their commercial partner Incyte to compete with Gilead and Novartis in the ultra-competitive indication, where similar trial results and far easier delivery could allow them to cut a fair share of the market.

Sanofi un­der for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion for De­pakine al­le­ga­tions; Beam li­cens­es CAR-T tech from Ox­ford Bio­med­ica

Sanofi is facing a formal investigation on manslaughter charges, due to accusations that its epilepsy drug Depakine caused birth malfunctions and slow neurological development when taken during pregnancy.

The French pharma was formally charged in February, years after evidence surfaced that the drug, sodium valproate, posed neurodevelopmental risks. Sodium valproate first hit the market in 1967 for the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and is currently prescribed in more than 100 countries.

Rich Heyman (ARCH)

Rich Hey­man joins PMV Phar­ma, a p53 biotech, as it adds $70 mil­lion in Se­ries D

Less than a year after pulling in an impressive $62 million Series C round, PMV Pharma is back at it again.

The Cranbury, NJ-based biotech announced Monday an additional $70 million in Series D financing as it seeks to develop cancer therapies targeting p53 mutations. Additionally, PMV also introduced longtime biotech entrepreneur Rich Heyman as chairman of the board of directors.

“This financing provides PMV Pharma with the resources to expand our pipeline and to potentially advance multiple p53 therapies into the clinic,” said PMV president and CEO David Mack in a statement.

Sev­en plucky di­ag­nos­tics com­pa­nies win a $249M round of con­tracts af­ter sur­viv­ing NI­H's Covid-19 'Shark Tank' com­pe­ti­tion

As US Covid-19 deaths creep past 150,000 and officials stress the importance of contact tracing, the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program has inked contracts totaling $248.7 million to expand testing capabilities.

The seven contracts, which were chosen “Shark Tank”-style from a pool of 100 proposals, are part of an effort to bump daily testing capacity to 2% of the country’s population by late summer or fall. That would be about 6 million people per day, compared to the current 520,000 to 823,000 tests being administered daily.

Covid-19 roundup: Eli Lil­ly retro­fits RVs for first-of-its-kind an­ti­body tri­al with NIH; Am­gen, Ab­b­Vie, Take­da team on a drug

Eli Lilly and the NIH are about to start a first-of-its-kind trial that researchers and developers have talked about for months as a way of providing temporary immunity to the most at-risk populations.

Lilly announced this morning that it will start a 2,400-person trial with the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases to test whether its experimental Covid-19 neutralizing antibody can prevent people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities from developing the disease. The idea, known as passive immunity, is that rather than waiting on a vaccine to induce people to develop antibodies, doctors can give them lab-grown antibodies. Ideally, those antibodies will either attack the new SARS-CoV-2 infection, if the patient has recently been exposed, or persist in the blood for several weeks and prevent infection or disease for that period.

So Covid-19 leader BioN­Tech has a can­cer vac­cine in de­vel­op­ment? Yes, and Re­gen­eron just jumped in for the PhII com­bo study

Before the coronavirus global emergency stole the R&D show in biopharma, the leaders in the race to develop new mRNA therapies had a big interest in determining if their tech could be used to create an effective cancer vaccine after all the first-gen tries had failed to impress. So perhaps it’s not surprising that an early cut of the data at frontrunner BioNTech went largely unnoticed.

Unless you were at Regeneron.

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Days af­ter seal­ing Sanofi pact, Kymera beats a path to the Nas­daq with $100M IPO pitch

Back in March, when Kymera Therapeutics closed $102 million in Series C funding led by Biotechnology Value Fund and Redmile Group, CEO Nello Mainolfi noted the protein degradation player was “at the cusp of transitioning” into a fully integrated R&D company. Five months and a major Sanofi pact later, he’s back asking for another little push to get there.

Kymera has penciled in $100 million in its first IPO pitch — although given the public market’s seemingly insatiable appetite for biotechs these days the final figure is anyone’s guess.

CymaBay flash­es pos­i­tive re­sults from the tri­al they have to re­launch

Two weeks after the FDA lifted its clinical hold on their lead drug, CymaBay said it showed positive results in an aborted Phase III trial.

The drug, a small molecule known as seladelpar, had been in development for three different liver conditions before an independent review of a NASH study last year showed that it might actually be damaging patient’s liver cells. The FDA slapped a clinical hold across all three trials, only lifting it last month when an FDA review determined that the drug hadn’t caused liver damage.