As de­vel­op­ers work on crack­ing KRAS, Ger­many's Boehringer has qui­et­ly be­gun test­ing its pan-KRAS drug in hu­mans

For decades, sci­en­tists scratched their heads about KRAS, the no­to­ri­ous can­cer-caus­ing pro­tein. Its smooth ter­rain long elud­ed ma­nip­u­la­tion, large­ly due to the ab­sence of a dis­tinct pock­et for a drug to latch on to. How­ev­er, the process of tri­al and er­ror fi­nal­ly yield­ed progress — trig­ger­ing a flock of com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Am­gen, J&J, Mer­ck, and As­traZeneca, to en­gi­neer com­pounds de­signed to an­nex the oft’ mu­tat­ed onco­gene. And now, it looks like Ger­many’s Boehringer In­gel­heim has of­fi­cial­ly en­tered the fold.

The first KRAS pock­et es­tab­lished by Am­gen $AMGN for at­tack is G12C, al­though small­er ri­val Mi­rati $MRTX is at the large drug­mak­er’s heels. The KRAS G12C mu­ta­tion is found in rough­ly 14% of non-small cell lung can­cer (NSCLC) pa­tients and 5% of col­orec­tal can­cer pa­tients, who are large­ly pre­sent­ed with a poor prog­no­sis and tend to be re­sis­tant to stan­dard ther­a­pies.

On Tues­day, Ever­core ISI’s Umer Raf­fat point­ed out that Boehringer now has a clin­i­cal-stage KRAS in­hibitor in its ar­se­nal. And un­like Am­gen and Mi­rati, the Ger­man drug­mak­er’s ap­proach is a pan-KRAS in­hibitor that hits SOS1 as well as G12C. SOS1 is a pro­tein that turns KRAS from an “off” to “on” state.

Am­gen’s keen­ly watched AMGN510 made a splash at the AS­CO con­fer­ence this year af­ter a small, ear­ly study showed five out of 10 pa­tients suf­fer­ing from ad­vanced, drug-re­sis­tant NSCLC saw a par­tial re­sponse to the ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment, in­clud­ing one who went on to achieve a com­plete re­sponse af­ter the da­ta cut­off point. Last month, those da­ta were up­dat­ed at the World Con­fer­ence on Lung Can­cer. Re­searchers tracked a 54% par­tial tu­mor re­sponse, and ob­served tu­mors shrink­ing in sev­en of 13 NSCLC pa­tients.

An­a­lysts have been in­tox­i­cat­ed with the po­ten­tial of the com­pound for this cat­e­go­ry of heav­i­ly treat­ed pa­tients with few op­tions at their dis­pos­al — and have al­ready fore­cast the drug will gen­er­ate bil­lions in peak sales, should it se­cure ap­proval.

But over the week­end at the ES­MO meet­ing in Barcelona, en­thu­si­asm for the drug out­side of lung can­cer damp­ened, af­ter Am­gen un­veiled da­ta from the tranche of col­orec­tal can­cer pa­tients. Re­searchers re­port­ed a sin­gle par­tial re­sponse among 12 col­orec­tal can­cer pa­tients.

Mean­while, Mi­rati’s Phase I/II da­ta em­a­nat­ing from its ex­per­i­men­tal drug, MRTX849, for ad­vanced sol­id tu­mors that har­bor KRAS G12C mu­ta­tions are ex­pect­ed in the fourth quar­ter. The lit­tle biotech has tied up with No­var­tis — and the two are look­ing at com­bin­ing the G12C drug with a ther­a­py that tar­gets SHP2, which func­tions as a key reg­u­la­tor of cell cy­cle con­trol.

Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines has the same po­ten­tial com­bo in-house. Oth­er KRAS con­tenders in­clude Mod­er­na $MR­NA and Mer­ck’s $MRK mR­NA-5671; J&J’s $JNJ col­lab­o­ra­tion with Well­spring on ARS-3248, a G12C tar­get­ed small mol­e­cule; and AZD4785, li­censed by As­traZeneca $AZN from Io­n­is — al­though the com­pound has been dis­con­tin­ued af­ter a poor show­ing in clin­i­cal tri­als.

In Au­gust, Boehringer tied up with MD An­der­son in­ves­ti­ga­tors in Hous­ton to cre­ate a joint “vir­tu­al re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ter” look­ing at two pop­u­lar prospects: KRAS in­hi­bi­tion and a TRAILR2 ag­o­nis­tic an­ti­body for apop­to­sis.

As an onco­gene, KRAS has the po­ten­tial to ren­der nor­mal cells can­cer­ous. Akin to HRAS and NRAS, it be­longs to the RAS fam­i­ly of onco­genes and plays a key role in cell di­vi­sion, cell dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, and apop­to­sis.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.

Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 148,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.