Key blad­der can­cer da­ta pave way for Seat­tle Ge­net­ics to sub­mit mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion for armed an­ti­body

Seat­tle Ge­net­ics is one step clos­er to get­ting its sec­ond armed an­ti­body across the fin­ish line, af­ter the ‘break­through’ Astel­las-part­nered drug — en­for­tum­ab ve­dotin — helped pa­tients with ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic urothe­lial can­cer, whose dis­ease pro­gressed de­spite treat­ment with both plat­inum-con­tain­ing chemother­a­py and a check­point in­hibitor, in a key study.

The drug in­duced a 44% ob­jec­tive re­sponse rate (ORR) in 128 pa­tients — and al­though de­tailed re­sults from the sin­gle-arm EV-201 study will be re­vealed at a lat­er date, the da­ta are com­pelling enough for Seat­tle to sub­mit a US mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion for the an­ti­body drug con­ju­gate (ADC), the com­pa­ny said on Thurs­day. A late-stage tri­al de­signed to con­firm the drug’s safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy in this pa­tient pop­u­la­tion is on­go­ing.

AD­Cs are a class of ther­a­peu­tics in which a can­cer-killing tox­in is at­tached to a spe­cif­ic an­ti­body us­ing a biodegrad­able link­er. De­signed to min­i­mize the ef­fects of the chemother­a­py on healthy cells while max­i­miz­ing tu­mour cell death, the tech­nol­o­gy is some­times likened to a tro­jan horse as it is en­gi­neered to go un­no­ticed, de­liv­er­ing chemother­a­pies to cells ex­press­ing the anti­gen tar­get. Seat­tle Ge­net­ics $SGEN al­ready has one ADC on the mar­ket, Ad­cetris, and a slate of oth­ers in de­vel­op­ment.

En­for­tum­ab ve­dotin (EV) tar­gets Nectin-4, a cell ad­he­sion mol­e­cule iden­ti­fied as an ADC tar­get by Astel­las. The ex­per­i­men­tal ADC is al­so be­ing test­ed for use in new­ly di­ag­nosed pa­tients with lo­cal­ly ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic urothe­lial can­cer in com­bi­na­tion with Keytru­da and/or plat­inum chemother­a­py.

The drug con­tin­ues to be eval­u­at­ed in the two co­hort EV-201 tri­al: in pa­tients with lo­cal­ly ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic urothe­lial can­cer that have been pre­vi­ous­ly treat­ed with a PD-1 or PD-L1 in­hibitor, in­clud­ing those who have al­so been giv­en plat­inum-based chemother­a­py (co­hort 1); and those who have not re­ceived a plat­inum-con­tain­ing chemother­a­py and are in­el­i­gi­ble for the chemother­a­py cis­platin (co­hort 2).

In the pre­vi­ous phase I tri­al, EV gen­er­at­ed ORR of of 45%, with a me­di­an du­ra­tion of re­sponse (DOR) of 7.5 months in the check­point ex­pe­ri­enced pop­u­la­tion, SVB Leerink an­a­lyst An­drew Berens not­ed. “Based on the top-line da­ta an­nounced…we be­lieve that EV has suf­fi­cient­ly cleared the bar need­ed to ob­tain ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, which we view as a 20-25% ORR with me­di­an DOR of ~5.5 months.”

Urothe­lial can­cer is the most com­mon type of blad­der can­cer. About 80,470 new cas­es of blad­der can­cer are ex­pect­ed to be di­ag­nosed this year, and it is an­tic­i­pat­ed 17,670 blad­der can­cer deaths will oc­cur in 2019, ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety es­ti­mates. Da­ta sug­gest most pa­tients do not re­spond to check­point in­hibitors af­ter a plat­inum-con­tain­ing ther­a­py has failed as an ini­tial treat­ment for ad­vanced dis­ease, and there are no oth­er ap­proved op­tions for pa­tients once these two lines of treat­ment have been ex­haust­ed.

The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.
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How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

In­vestor day prep at Mer­ck in­cludes a new strat­e­gy to pick up the pace on M&A — re­port

Mer­ck’s re­cent deals to buy up two bolt-on biotechs — Ti­los and Pelo­ton — weren’t an aber­ra­tion. In­stead, both ac­qui­si­tions mark a new strat­e­gy to beef up its dom­i­nant can­cer drug op­er­a­tions cen­tered on Keytru­da while look­ing to ad­dress grow­ing con­cerns that too many of its eggs are in the one I/O bas­ket for their PD-1 pro­gram. And Mer­ck is go­ing af­ter more small- and mid-sized buy­outs to calm those fears.

John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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Right back at you, Pfiz­er: BeiGene and a Pfiz­er spin­out launch a new­co to de­vel­op a MEK/BRAF in­hibitor that could ri­val $11.4B com­bo

A day af­ter Pfiz­er bought Ar­ray and its ap­proved can­cer com­bo, BeiGene and Pfiz­er spin­out Spring­Works have part­nered in launch­ing a new biotech that has an eye on the very same mar­ket the phar­ma gi­ant just paid bil­lions for. And they’re plan­ning on us­ing an ex-Pfiz­er drug to do it.

In a nut­shell, Chi­na’s BeiGene is toss­ing in a pre­clin­i­cal BRAF in­hibitor — BGB-3245, which cov­ers both V600 and non-V600 BRAF mu­ta­tions — for a big stake in a new, joint­ly con­trolled biotech called Map­Kure with Bain-backed Spring­Works.

Sanofi aligns it­self with Google to stream­line drug de­vel­op­ment

Tech­nol­o­gy is bleed­ing in­to health­care, and big phar­ma is rid­ing the wave. Sanofi $SNY ap­point­ed its first chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer this Feb­ru­ary, fol­low­ing the foot­steps of its peers. By May, the French drug­mak­er and some of its big phar­ma com­pa­tri­ots joined forces with Google par­ent Al­pha­bet’s Ver­i­ly unit to aug­ment clin­i­cal tri­al re­search. On Tues­day, the Parisian com­pa­ny tied up with Google to ac­cess its cloud com­put­ing and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tech to spur the de­vel­op­ment of new ther­a­pies.

UP­DAT­ED: Roche fields first ap­proval for Ro­z­lytrek in the run-up to a show­down with Bay­er, Pfiz­er

While it’s wait­ing to hear back from FDA reg­u­la­tors, Roche is be­gin­ning the vic­to­ry lap for en­trec­tinib in Japan.

Roche is giv­ing Bay­er a run for their mon­ey with this tu­mor-ag­nos­tic drug, which tar­gets NTRK gene fu­sions. Now dubbed Ro­z­lytrek, it’s sanc­tioned to treat adult and pe­di­atric pa­tients in Japan with neu­rotroph­ic ty­ro­sine re­cep­tor ki­nase fu­sion-pos­i­tive, ad­vanced re­cur­rent sol­id tu­mors.

Arc­turus ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion, adding $30M cash; Ku­ra shoots for $100M raise

→  Rare dis­ease play­er Ul­tragenyx $RARE is ex­pand­ing its al­liance with Arc­turus $ARCT, pay­ing $24 mil­lion for eq­ui­ty and an­oth­er $6 mil­lion in an up­front as the two part­ners ex­pand their col­lab­o­ra­tion to in­clude up to 12 tar­gets. “This ex­pand­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion fur­ther so­lid­i­fies our mR­NA plat­form by adding ad­di­tion­al tar­gets and ex­pand­ing our abil­i­ty to po­ten­tial­ly treat more dis­eases,” said Emil Kakkis, the CEO at Ul­tragenyx. “We are pleased with the progress of our on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. Our most ad­vanced mR­NA pro­gram, UX053 for the treat­ment of Glyco­gen Stor­age Dis­ease Type III, is ex­pect­ed to move in­to the clin­ic next year, and we look for­ward to fur­ther build­ing up­on the ini­tial suc­cess of this part­ner­ship.”