Bris­tol-My­ers claims the lead in a race to de­vel­op a TYK2 drug, hop­ing to dis­rupt a huge mar­ket for an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ries

Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb’s TYK2 team has been show­ing off some Phase II da­ta they be­lieve puts them in the run­ning for leader of a small but promi­nent pack of de­vel­op­ers look­ing to ad­vance a new class of an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ries that aim at pen­e­trat­ing some very big mar­kets.

As pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine and pre­sent­ed at the 27th Eu­ro­pean Acad­e­my of Der­ma­tol­ogy and Ven­erol­o­gy Con­gress in Paris, Bris­tol-My­ers’ ef­fort for BMS-986165 pro­duced some com­pet­i­tive re­sults in a key mid-stage study for mod­er­ate-to-se­vere plaque pso­ri­a­sis — a packed field where JAK in­hibitors have been mak­ing waves.

By nar­row­ly tar­get­ing TYK2 — and leav­ing the oth­er JAK fam­i­ly tar­gets out — with an al­losteric ap­proach, as op­posed to ATP bind­ing, the Bris­tol-My­ers group say they were able to safe­ly pro­duce a range of com­pet­i­tive PASI75 clear­ance rates of 67% to 75% for the three high­est dos­es of the oral drug in the dose-rang­ing study.

John Throup

“From my per­spec­tive the clin­i­cal da­ta we have bears out the strat­e­gy we set out to de­liv­er right in the ear­ly stages of the dis­cov­ery pro­gram,” says John Throup, the de­vel­op­ment lead for TYK2, who of­fered a pre­view of the da­ta that was on dis­play Wednes­day, along with dis­cov­ery chemist Ryan Moslin.

This was an in-house pro­gram from the very be­gin­ning at Bris­tol-My­ers. And they’re tak­ing it all the way through, look­ing to trip up pro-in­flam­ma­to­ry cy­tokine re­cep­tors, in­clud­ing the hot tar­get IL-23, IL-12 and Type 1 in­ter­fer­ons with what they be­lieve is a clear­ly safe oral drug look­ing to dis­tin­guish it­self from a very big — and grow­ing — field of ri­vals.

The drug is al­ready in two Phase III stud­ies for pso­ri­a­sis, which joint­ly re­cruit­ed 1,600 pa­tients with a planned read-out in mid-2020. And they’re ex­pand­ing the work in­to Crohn’s and lu­pus, keep­ing an eye on oth­er tar­gets they could add as well

“Pa­tients don’t need an­oth­er non-spe­cif­ic JAK in­hibitor,” adds Throup, not­ing the safe­ty is­sues that have come up for the class, which in­cludes baric­i­tinib and Xel­janz. And they be­lieve that they’ve al­so tak­en the right path in the clin­ic by avoid­ing the ac­tive bind­ing site and tar­get­ing the reg­u­la­to­ry do­main in TYK2.

Of course, this drug still has to sur­vive the big Phase III chal­lenge in much larg­er pa­tient pop­u­la­tions that are de­signed to spot­light any small safe­ty is­sue. And ri­val de­vel­op­ment groups fo­cused on TYK2 for Cel­gene and its part­ners at Nim­bus, which is still pre­clin­i­cal, as well as Pfiz­er — which a spokesper­son tells me has mapped four Phase II stud­ies for PF-06700841— aren’t like­ly to let Bris­tol-My­ers pass un­chal­lenged.

In the mean­time, Ab­b­Vie is hus­tling ahead with its reg­u­la­to­ry re­view of the IL-23 drug risankizum­ab for pso­ri­a­sis, con­vinced they have the da­ta need­ed to field a megablock­buster. And there are more in­jecta­bles like Cosen­tyx — and fil­go­tinib from Gilead and Gala­pa­gos — which is al­ready well es­tab­lished. 

Bring­ing a safe, ef­fec­tive oral drug could dis­rupt that fast-chang­ing mar­ket­place. But this is one bat­tle of the gi­ants where every­one will be fierce­ly de­fend­ing their turf.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

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Kaile Zagger, Infinant Health CEO

UC Davis mi­cro­bio­me spin­out re­brands in­fant sup­ple­ment busi­ness with na­ture fo­cus

When Kaile Zagger took the helm of UC Davis spinout Evolve Biosystems several months ago, the company billed itself as a probiotic maker.

However, she believes the company’s Evivo supplement designed to help infants develop a healthy gut microbiome is “so much more” — and that, she said, calls for a rebrand.

Evolve has, well, evolved into Infinant Health, the company announced on Monday. The new name is a mash-up of the words “infant” and “infinite,” representing the company’s goal of expanding beyond infant care. While its sole product, Evivo, is intended for newborns, Infinant is “quickly developing” an option for kids through the age of two.

FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA on Wednesday set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, meaning regulators aren’t likely to meet the Nov. 30 PDUFA date that was previously set.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

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Bob Azelby, Eliem Therapeutics CEO

Eliem says ear­li­er drug ex­po­sure is­sues have been re­solved, drops one epilep­sy in­di­ca­tion

After being forced to delay two Phase IIa trials and blaming CMC issues on a Phase Ib miss, Eliem Therapeutics believes it’s now in the clear.

The Seattle and UK-based biotech put out word Wednesday morning about how it conducted new early-stage studies to confirm why low exposure issues arose during the Phase Ib. After researchers compared the results of the studies, Eliem found “no meaningful difference” between them and ruled out CMC as the reason for the foiled Phase Ib study, the company said in a press release.

GSK touts topline win for PD-1 in head-to-head with Keytru­da — while steer­ing next big check­point drug in­to PhI­II

GSK is claiming a win for what it calls the largest head-to-head trial pitting a PD-1 against Merck’s best-selling Keytruda in a type of lung cancer, as its Jemperli met the primary endpoint of objective response rate.

In a separate positive move, GSK says it’s moving both arms of the COSTAR Lung trial into Phase III to test Jemperli as well as the TIM-3 inhibitor cobolimab.

Hesham Abdullah, GSK’s global head of oncology development, said in a statement that the two trials “support the ambition for dostarlimab to become the backbone of our ongoing immuno-oncology-based research and development programme when used alone and in combination with standard of care and future novel cancer therapies, particularly in patients with currently limited treatment options.”

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