Ikena Oncology drops an early-stage program as it looks to stretch its cash
Another biotech is lining up to cut a piece of its pipeline to extend its cashflow. The Boston-based, cancer-centered biotech Ikena Oncology is looking to make some changes to its pipeline, including a cull of one of its early-stage programs.
Ikena announced this week that after conducting a “portfolio review,” it will discontinue the internal clinical development of its candidate IK-007, an EP4 antagonist, and that it is “exploring strategic alternatives” for the drug.
The biotech did state that clinical data from IK-007 in microsatellite stable colorectal cancer will still be presented in a poster at the 2022 European Society for Medical Oncology Immuno-Oncology Congress.
According to clinicaltrials.gov, the candidate was being investigated in a Phase I combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 drug Keytruda in patients with advanced or progressive microsatellite stable colorectal cancer, with the trial starting in 2018.
An Ikena spokesperson told Endpoints News in an email:
IK-007 is a legacy immunology program from our early days as a company. While it has and is developing interesting results, the decision to de-prioritize IK-007 was part of a portfolio review to help streamline our activities and prioritize our work in targeted oncology. The reprioritization also contributed to the extension of our runway into 2025, advancing our targeted oncology clinical and discovery programs to their next inflections, including our newest MEK-RAF complex development candidate, IK-595, through IND-enabling studies and IK-930, our novel TEAD inhibition program, through initial clinical data.
Though the move extends Ikena’s cash, it does not include any potential licensing revenue from the IK-175 program that is currently in development with Bristol Myers Squibb, which is eligible for opt-in through early 2024.
Instead, Ikena will be turning its focus onto another one of its oral candidates, IK-595, which will be its first program in the RAS pathway. Ikena anticipates that its candidate, which is still in early stages, may be eligible for an IND filing at some point in the second half of next year, with “preclinical differentiation data” also planned to be presented in the first half of 2023, the company said in a release.
Ikena also plans to forge ahead with its TEAD inhibitor, IK-930, which is currently in Phase I, and plans to unveil more data on the program next year. But Ikena is not the only biotech that has recently had to make some adjustments to its pipeline to stretch its cash.
Earlier in November, Seattle-based Neoleukin stopped work on its candidate NL-201, a de novo IL-2/IL-15 agonist, after Phase I data did not show “significant immunogenicity” even after “multiple cycles of therapy.”
Delaware-based oncology biotech Prelude Therapeutics also halted the development of one of its assets, called PRMT5, and has decided to focus on its other programs as well.
These culls also come amid a wave of recent layoffs among smaller biotechs.