Jasper scraps pivotal plans but adds a new indication as more biotechs revise pipelines
A suite of biopharmas disclosed cuts to their pipelines this week as the industry gets a sweeping update of drugs in the works as part of the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Jasper Therapeutics, Acticor Biotech, NGM Bio and Annexon were among those to slash parts of their development plans.
The moves follow a rough 2022 for the market, in which dozens of biotechs shifted priorities to conserve cash and stay afloat. Biopharmas routinely fine-tune their pipelines, but the consistency of culls and layoffs last year stood out.
For Jasper, the adjustment to its clinical plans has sent the stock price $JSPR soaring nearly 28% after Tuesday’s opening bell, continuing a share price rise from last week following a Phase I/II data readout in sickle cell disease (SCD) and beta thalassemia. The biotech had for nearly a year been talking about a registrational study of the drug, briquilimab, in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). But those pivotal plans, still in existence as of a November update, are now shelved, according to a Tuesday update.
“We believe focusing on the most well-characterized opportunities with the clearest and potentially fastest pathway to market is in the best interest of patients and our shareholders,” president and CEO Ronald Martell said in a press release.
The refined pipeline will focus on existing studies in SCD, Fanconi anemia and severe combined immunodeficiency and launching a trial in chronic lower-risk myelodysplastic syndrome. The biotech is also adding a new indication: chronic urticaria, or hives and itchy skin welts that last for weeks on end.
“Based on preclinical and clinical studies showing inhibition of c-Kit signaling, depletion of mast cells in skin and lung and extended pharmacokinetics of subcutaneous dosing, the Company has prioritized rapidly starting a clinical study in severe chronic urticaria,” the Redwood City, CA biotech said.
Earlier in the week, Paris-based Acticor said it would postpone a Phase II study of glenzocimab in pulmonary embolism. The drug will continue in two ongoing Phase II/III studies for stroke and one Phase IIb for myocardial infarction. One of those studies is meant to support a fast track designation with the FDA and will be the basis of a potential marketing authorization filing in the EU.
NGM Bio, after reeling from an axed eye drug pact with Merck last month, said it will seek a new partner for the drug, known as NGM621. The South San Francisco biotech will also shop around its NASH and bile acid dysregulation candidate aldafermin and a bispecific (NGM936) intended for patients with multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia.
Autoimmune, neurodegenerative and ophthalmic disorders biotech Annexon said it would end work in warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia, or wAIHA, in which healthy red blood cells are destroyed early. The California biotech said it made the move “following an assessment of the market opportunity in wAIHA and a range of additional autoimmune indications.”