Pfizer/Merck KGaA launch solid tumor combo study with Leap; AstraZeneca and Immunomedics to test ADC cancer combo
→ Pfizer and Merck KGaA are teaming up with Leap Therapeutics $LPTX to evaluate the small Cambridge, MA-based company’s drug in a combo with Bavencio (avelumab) and chemo. Leap is developing a drug called TRX518, a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to the glucocorticoid-inducible TNF-superfamily receptor. It’s believed to boost the body’s anti-tumor response, and will be tested in this combo in patients with solid tumors. Under the terms of the deal, Leap will conduct a Phase I/II study, with enrollment starting in Q1 2019.
→ Immunomedics $IMMU is testing a combo therapy with AstraZeneca $AZN and its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune. Together, they’re evaluating Immunomedics’ lead drug candidate — sacituzumab govitecan, an antibody drug conjugate — with FDA-approved cancer immunotherapy Imfinzi. The duo is testing the combo as a frontline treatment for patients with triple-negative breast cancer and urothelial cancer.
→ Weeks after closing its star-studded $260 million Series B round, CStone Pharmaceuticals has poached Goldman Sachs director Richard Yeh to manage all of that money and more. As CFO, Yeh’s duties will cover corporate financial strategies, financial reporting, risk management, funding, and IPO. Given CStone’s ambitious plan to go after frontrunners in the PD-L1 field (like Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy, Merck’s Keytruda and Novartis’ Mekinist) with its own Phase I drug candidate, Yeh is expected to contribute insight gleaned from his years leading research on both Chinese and US biotech industries. The immuno-oncology player has inked a couple of licensing pacts with US biotechs, including with Agios on ivosidenib, its newly approved treatment for advanced acute myeloid leukemia.