Game on: Re­gen­eron's BC­MA bis­pe­cif­ic makes clin­i­cal da­ta de­but, kick­ing off mul­ti­ple myelo­ma matchup with Bris­tol-My­ers

As J&J at­tempts to jos­tle past Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb and blue­bird for a land­mark ap­proval of its an­ti-BC­MA CAR-T — and while Glax­o­SmithK­line maps a quick path to the FDA rid­ing on its own BC­MA-tar­get­ing an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gates — the bis­pecifics are ar­riv­ing on the scene to stake a claim for a mar­ket that could cross $10 bil­lion per year.

The main ri­val­ry in mul­ti­ple myelo­ma is shap­ing up to be one be­tween Re­gen­eron and Bris­tol-My­ers, which picked up a bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body to BC­MA through its re­cent­ly closed $74 bil­lion takeover of Cel­gene. Both pre­sent­ed promis­ing first-in-hu­man da­ta at the ASH 2019 meet­ing.

Bri­an Sko­r­ney

“Al­though Cel­gene has both a time and myelo­ma ex­pe­ri­ence ad­van­tage, we be­lieve Re­gen­eron is close be­hind and could even catch up if the megamerg­er leads to some pro­gram de­lays” was Baird an­a­lyst Bri­an Sko­r­ney’s take as he scored the first myelo­ma da­ta for REGN5458.

With bis­pecifics the gen­er­al idea is to bridge T cells and tu­mors cells, there­by in­duc­ing the killing of can­cer. REGN5458, in par­tic­u­lar, binds to the CD3 re­cep­tor on the im­mune cells and BC­MA on mul­ti­ple myelo­ma cells.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors had da­ta on the first two dose groups to re­port from the on­go­ing Phase I/II dose es­ca­la­tion study, in which 3 pa­tients were giv­en 3mg week­ly dos­es and 4 pa­tients re­ceived 6mg. Over­all, 4 of them record­ed a re­sponse — giv­ing rise to a 57% re­sponse rate over­all — 3 of them from the 6mg group (75% re­sponse rate there). Among those three tak­ing the high­er dose, two passed the cru­cial test of be­ing min­i­mal resid­ual dis­ease (MRD) neg­a­tive, a high bar sug­gest­ing no can­cer cells were de­tectable in their bone mar­row.

Is­rael Lowy

No­tably, these pa­tients have had a me­di­an of sev­en lines of pri­or ther­a­py and had all failed CD38 an­ti­body treat­ment. And at the 6mg dose lev­el, the me­di­an num­ber of pri­or treat­ment was even high­er at 9.5, Sko­r­ney not­ed.

Cy­tokine re­lease syn­drome, ane­mia and lym­phope­nia were all doc­u­ment­ed, though Re­gen­eron said the ad­verse events were not dose lim­it­ing.

Their re­sults come on the heels of Bris­tol-My­ers/Cel­gene’s da­ta re­veal, in which CC-93269 showed an 89% re­sponse rate in the high­est dose of 10mg af­ter be­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors went up from 0.15mg with 30 pa­tients to­tal.

“CC-93269 shows promis­ing dose-de­pen­dent ef­fi­ca­cy, in­clud­ing MRD-neg­a­tive sCRs, with a con­ve­nient ad­min­is­tra­tion sched­ule in pa­tients with heav­i­ly pre­treat­ed re­lapsed/re­frac­to­ry mul­ti­ple myelo­ma.”

Most of the grade 3 or high­er ad­verse events were neu­trope­nia, ane­mia and in­fec­tions, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors not­ed, though cy­tokine re­lease syn­drome al­so cropped up in 76% of all pa­tients in the tri­al.

In the Re­gen­eron tri­al, three pa­tients ex­pe­ri­enced CRS, amount­ing to a 42% oc­cur­rence.

“We are en­cour­aged to see promis­ing, rapid clin­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ty even at the ini­tial two dos­es of REGN5458 in heav­i­ly pre­treat­ed pa­tients with mul­ti­ple myelo­ma,” Is­rael Lowy, head of clin­i­cal and trans­la­tion­al sci­ences for on­col­o­gy at Re­gen­eron, said in a state­ment. “We are ac­tive­ly re­cruit­ing pa­tients in­to high­er dose groups in this tri­al and look for­ward to shar­ing fur­ther re­sults in 2020.”

Lowy added that the Tar­ry­town, NY-based biotech has ini­ti­at­ed a tri­al for its sec­ond BC­MA/CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic, which binds dif­fer­ent­ly. They are mov­ing fast — and they need to in a field brim­ming with com­peti­tors.

Pfiz­er is ad­vanc­ing its own ver­sion, al­though the ab­sence of equiv­a­lent­ly promis­ing da­ta at ASH pushed Sko­r­ney to sur­mise “not all bis­pecifics are cre­at­ed equal­ly.” Ab­b­Vie al­so got its hands on a bis­pe­cif­ic hook­ing to the same tar­gets from a $90 mil­lion deal with Teneo­bio.

2019 Trin­i­ty Drug In­dex Eval­u­ates Ac­tu­al Com­mer­cial Per­for­mance of Nov­el Drugs Ap­proved in 2016

Fewer Approvals, but Neurology Rivals Oncology and Sees Major Innovations

This report, the fourth in our Trinity Drug Index series, outlines key themes and emerging trends in the industry as we progress towards a new world of targeted and innovative products. It provides a comprehensive evaluation of the performance of novel drugs approved by the FDA in 2016, scoring each on its commercial performance, therapeutic value, and R&D investment (Table 1: Drug ranking – Ratings on a 1-5 scale).

How to cap­i­talise on a lean launch

For start-up biotechnology companies and resource stretched pharmaceutical organisations, launching a novel product can be challenging. Lean teams can make setting a launch strategy and achieving your commercial goals seem like a colossal undertaking, but can these barriers be transformed into opportunities that work to your brand’s advantage?
We spoke to Managing Consultant Frances Hendry to find out how Blue Latitude Health partnered with a fledgling subsidiary of a pharmaceutical organisation to launch an innovative product in a
complex market.
What does the launch environment look like for this product?
FH: We started working on the product at Phase II and now we’re going into Phase III trials. There is a significant unmet need in this disease area, and everyone is excited about the launch. However, the organisation is still evolving and the team is quite small – naturally this causes a little turbulence.

Gilead claims Tru­va­da patents in HHS’ com­plaint are in­valid

Back in November, the Department of Health and Human Services took the rare step of filing a complaint against Gilead for infringing on government-owned patents related to the HIV drug Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

But on Thursday, Gilead filed its own retort, making clear that it does not believe it has infringed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Truvada patents because they are invalid.

Aymeric Le Chatelier, Ipsen

A $1B-plus drug stum­bles in­to an­oth­er big PhI­II set­back -- this time flunk­ing fu­til­i­ty test -- as FDA hold re­mains in ef­fect for Ipsen

David Meek

At the time Ipsen stepped up last year with more than a billion dollars in cash to buy Clementia and a late-stage program for a rare bone disease that afflicts children, then CEO David Meek was confident that he had put the French biotech on a short path to a mid-2020 launch.

Instead of prepping a launch, though, the company was hit with a hold on the FDA’s concerns that a therapy designed to prevent overgrowth of bone for cases of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva might actually stunt children’s growth. So they ordered a halt to any treatments for kids 14 and under. Meek left soon after to run a startup in Boston. And today the Paris-based biotech is grappling with the independent monitoring committee’s decision that their Phase III had failed a futility test.

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Roche's check­point play­er Tecen­triq flops in an­oth­er blad­der can­cer sub­set

Just weeks after Merck’s star checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda secured FDA approval for a subset of bladder cancer patients, Swiss competitor Roche’s Tecentriq has failed in a pivotal bladder cancer study.

The 809-patient trial — IMvigor010 — tested the PD-L1 drug in patients with muscle-invasive urothelial cancer (MIUC) who had undergone surgery, and were at high risk for recurrence.

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UP­DAT­ED: Eli Lil­ly’s $1.6B can­cer drug failed to spark even the slight­est pos­i­tive gain for pa­tients in its 1st PhI­II

Eli Lilly had high hopes for its pegylated IL-10 drug pegilodecakin when it bought Armo last year for $1.6 billion in cash. But after reporting a few months ago that it had failed a Phase III in pancreatic cancer, without the data, its likely value has plunged. And now we’re getting some exact data that underscore just how little positive effect it had.

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UP­DAT­ED: FDA’s golodirsen CRL: Sarep­ta’s Duchenne drugs are dan­ger­ous to pa­tients, of­fer­ing on­ly a small ben­e­fit. And where's that con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al?

Back last summer, Sarepta CEO Doug Ingram told Duchenne MD families and investors that the FDA’s shock rejection of their second Duchenne MD drug golodirsen was due to some concerns regulators raised about the risk of infection and the possibility of kidney toxicity. But when pressed to release the letter for all to see, he declined, according to a report from BioPharmaDive, saying that kind of move “might not look like we’re being as respectful as we’d like to be.”

He went on to assure everyone that he hadn’t misrepresented the CRL.

But Ingram’s public remarks didn’t include everything in the letter, which — following the FDA’s surprise about-face and unexplained approval — has now been posted on the FDA’s website and broadly circulated on Twitter early Wednesday.

The CRL raises plenty of fresh questions about why the FDA abruptly decided to reverse itself and hand out an OK for a drug a senior regulator at the FDA believed — 5 months ago, when he wrote the letter — is dangerous to patients. It also puts the spotlight back on Sarepta $SRPT, which failed to launch a confirmatory study of eteplirsen, which was only approved after a heated internal controversy at the FDA. Ellis Unger, director of CDER’s Office of Drug Evaluation I, notes that study could have clarified quite a lot about the benefit and risks associated with their drugs — which can cost as much as a million dollars per patient per year, depending on weight.

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Gilead dusts off a failed Ebo­la drug as coro­n­avirus spreads; Ex­elix­is boasts pos­i­tive Ph I/II da­ta

→ Less than a year ago Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir failed to make the cut as investigators considered a raft of potential drugs that could be used against an Ebola outbreak. But it may gain a new mission with the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, which is popping up now around the world.

Gilead put out a statement saying that they’re now in discussions with health officials in the US and China about testing their NUC against the virus. It’s the latest in a growing lineup of biopharma companies that are marshaling R&D forces to see if they can come up with a vaccine or therapy to blunt the spread of the virus, which has now sickened hundreds, killed at least 17 people and led the Chinese government to start quarantining cities.

Alex Karnal (Deerfield)

Deer­field vaults to the top of cell and gene ther­a­py CD­MO game with $1.1B fa­cil­i­ty at Philadel­phi­a's newest bio­phar­ma hub

Back at the beginning of 2015, Deerfield Management co-led a $10 million Series C for a private gene therapy startup, reshaping the company and bringing in new leaders to pave way for an IPO just a year later.

Fast forward four more years and the startup, AveXis, is now a subsidiary of Novartis marketing the second-ever gene therapy to be approved in the US.

For its part, Deerfield has also grown more comfortable and ambitious about the nascent field. And the investment firm is now putting down its biggest bet yet: a $1.1 billion contract development and manufacturing facility to produce everything one needs for cell and gene therapy — faster and better than how it’s currently done.