Kite adds promis­ing leukemia re­spons­es in small CAR-T stud­ies, then fires the start­ing gun on its rolling sub­mis­sion

Kite Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $KITE has lined up a fresh batch of pos­i­tive ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta for its lead CAR-T for ad­vanced cas­es of acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia at ASH. And then lat­er Sun­day evening the biotech added that it has launched its rolling sub­mis­sion for a first ap­proval.

David Chang, Kite

In­ves­ti­ga­tors turned up at the big ASH meet­ing to say that the drug spurred a com­plete re­mis­sion in 9 of 11 evalu­able pa­tients — 82% — en­rolled in the ZU­MA-3 and ZU­MA-4 Phase I stud­ies for ALL in a pre­lim­i­nary re­view.

But the treat­ment was not with­out dan­ger. Five of the 13 had se­ri­ous bouts of cy­tokine re­lease syn­drome as well as 5 who had grade three or above cas­es of neu­ro­log­i­cal events. There were no cas­es of cere­bral ede­ma, which have be­dev­iled ri­val Juno, but one of the pa­tients in the tri­als died from CRS.

Kite had long hoped to file its first ap­pli­ca­tion for KTE-C19 be­fore the end of the year, but was forced to de­lay un­til Q1 2017 af­ter some in­ter­ac­tions with the FDA, pre­sum­ably so it would have time to in­clude da­ta on the 6-month re­spons­es of pa­tients in ZU­MA-1. Some an­a­lysts have been skep­ti­cal of the dura­bil­i­ty of the treat­ment af­ter see­ing the ef­fect de­cline over a few months of treat­ment, but com­pa­ny ex­ecs ex­pect to see that re­sponse lev­el plateau at a sig­nif­i­cant lev­el.

Soon af­ter Kite post­ed the lat­est da­ta on their ther­a­py Sun­day, the com­pa­ny an­nounced that it had launched the rolling sub­mis­sion and would get it com­plet­ed by the end of the first quar­ter of 2017. But No­var­tis now may have an edge in fil­ing first, and look­ing for the first ever ap­proval of a CAR-T ther­a­py.

The drug re­mains one of the lead­ing CAR-T ther­a­pies head­ing to the FDA. No­var­tis is now hus­tling along its own CAR-T af­ter reg­is­ter­ing an im­pres­sive 82% com­plete re­mis­sion rate among the 50 chil­dren and young adults with B-cell acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia.

“In the Phase I por­tion of these stud­ies, we on­ly en­rolled pa­tients with high dis­ease bur­den to rig­or­ous­ly eval­u­ate safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy of KTE-C19,” said Kite R&D di­rec­tor David Chang. “We look for­ward to ini­ti­at­ing the Phase II por­tions of these stud­ies in 2017.”

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

Sanofi, GSK tout 72% Omi­cron ef­fi­ca­cy in PhI­II tri­al of next-gen, bi­va­lent shot — with an eye to year-end roll­out

Sometimes, being late can give you an advantage.

That’s what Sanofi and GSK are trying to say as the Big Pharma partners report positive results from a late-stage trial of their next-gen bivalent Covid-19 vaccine, which was designed to protect against both the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Beta variant. Specifically, against Omicron, they note, the vaccine delivered 72% efficacy in all adults and 93.2% in those previously infected.

Matt Kapusta, uniQure CEO

In trou­bled Hunt­ing­ton’s space, uniQure’s gene ther­a­py shows ear­ly promise

In randomized clinical trial data from a small number of patients, Dutch biotech uniQure shared that its gene therapy for Huntington’s disease seems to reduce the amount of the mutant protein responsible for the disease over the course of a year.

In seven patients with early-stage Huntington’s — four who got the treatment and three who got a placebo — mutant huntingtin protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid decreased by an average of just over 50% in patients who got the gene therapy compared to around a 17% drop in patients who got the placebo after a year.

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.