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.
Each outbreak tends to shine a light on the longterm players in this field, though it has taken years to come up with treatments that can be proven to work against a virus. Most of the time the small-cap companies getting into the headlines fail to perform. This time, though, new players like Moderna — now allied with the NIH — and Vir are jumping into the game to try out new technologies and teams.
→ Exelixis unveiled some promising Phase I/II data on its drug, cabozantinib (branded Cabometyx) — in combination with Bristol-Myers‘ Opdivo in liver cancer patients an ASCO abstract on Friday. Cabometyx has been approved as a monotherapy for advanced hepatocellular cancer for about a year. “Reported OS data for Cabo-Nivo (Cabometyx + Opdivo) in a mixed (1st/2nd line) liver cancer pts was 21.5mo, which suggests synergistic activity likely driven Cabo’s unique profile…we view Cabo to have a differentiated profile among other VEGF-targeting pills, which we believe makes it best in class to have synergy with PD-1/L1 agents like Opdivo, Tecentriq, etc.” SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analysts wrote in a note. “This helps reaffirm our expectation that Cosmic-312 (Cabometyx + Tecentriq) in first-line liver cancer will be very positive, and will set a new (high) bar on overall survival.”
→ A food study designed to support a marketing application for a PTSD drug has lifted the shares of its maker Tonix. The NYC-based company’s stock jumped more than 32% to $1.84 in Friday morning trading. The drug, TNX-102 SL, failed a late-stage study in 2018 — only for the company to take a retrospective analysis of the data and shrink the addressable market for the drug to PTSD sufferers who suffered their trauma within the past nine years.