Jeb Keiper, Nimbus Therapeutics CEO

PhI­Ib win puts Nim­bus one step clos­er to chal­leng­ing Bris­tol My­ers in TYK2

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb might be the first to clinch an FDA ap­proval for a TYK2 in­hibitor, but Nim­bus Ther­a­peu­tics is out to prove that it has the best drug in the class. The biotech says it now has pos­i­tive mid-stage da­ta to back up those claims — al­though it’s sav­ing the hard num­bers for now.

Topline re­sults from a Phase IIb study in­volv­ing 259 pa­tients with mod­er­ate-to-se­vere plaque pso­ri­a­sis showed that Nim­bus’ drug, NDI-034858, hit the pri­ma­ry end­point of help­ing more pa­tients achieve PASI-75 than place­bo at 12 weeks.

Nim­bus ex­pects to present the da­ta at an up­com­ing med­ical con­fer­ence and start a Phase III study in 2023. The ex­act ben­e­fit will be key as the com­pa­ny goes up against not just Bris­tol My­ers and ex­ist­ing treat­ments, but a suite of play­ers hawk­ing next-gen ap­proach­es to block­ing the an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry tar­get.

PASI-75 is a com­mon met­ric in pso­ri­a­sis tri­als re­fer­ring to a 75% im­prove­ment in skin le­sions as mea­sured by the Pso­ri­a­sis Area and Sever­i­ty In­dex com­pared to place­bo at 12 weeks. Oth­er end­points were al­so met, ac­cord­ing to Nim­bus.

Bhaskar Sri­vas­ta­va

“Ad­di­tion­al­ly, the con­sis­tent safe­ty pro­file seen in this study re­in­forces TYK2 in­hibitors as a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed non-JAK ther­a­peu­tic class,” said Bhaskar Sri­vas­ta­va, Nim­bus’ SVP for clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, in a state­ment.

While TYK2 it­self be­longs to the JAK fam­i­ly — which has been as­so­ci­at­ed with mul­ti­ple safe­ty con­cerns — TYK2 in­hibitors have so far skirt­ed the safe­ty is­sues that plagued JAK in­hibitors, a point Bris­tol My­ers al­so un­der­scored when the FDA grant­ed a clean la­bel for its So­tyk­tu (deu­cravac­i­tinib) with­out a black box warn­ing.

An­a­lysts have pegged So­tyk­tu, which Bris­tol My­ers touts as an oral op­tion with ef­fi­ca­cy close to bi­o­log­ics, as a megablock­buster drug with peak sales in the $3 bil­lion-plus range.

NDI-034858 is a top pro­gram out of Nim­bus’ com­pu­ta­tion­al drug dis­cov­ery plat­form. Armed with a re­cent $125 mil­lion raise, Nim­bus is al­so de­vel­op­ing the drug in oth­er in­di­ca­tions, in­clud­ing ac­tive pso­ri­at­ic arthri­tis, and is plan­ning tri­als in au­toim­mune dis­or­ders such as in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease and lu­pus.

There’s a bit of a con­tentious his­to­ry here, too: Cel­gene made a deal with Nim­bus for the right to ac­quire its TYK2 pro­grams, be­fore Bris­tol My­ers bought Cel­gene. At one point, Nim­bus filed a law­suit call­ing for the ter­mi­na­tion of the $74 bil­lion megamerg­er, claim­ing it would sti­fle com­pe­ti­tion — but even­tu­al­ly dropped the suit.

Late Fri­day ap­proval; Trio of biotechs wind down; Stem cell pi­o­neer finds new fron­tier; Biotech icon to re­tire; 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.

I hope your weekend is off to a nice start, wherever you are reading this email. As for me, I’m trying to catch the tail of the Lunar New Year festivities.

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Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

No­var­tis' ap­proved sick­le cell dis­ease drug fails to beat place­bo in PhI­II

Novartis’ sickle cell drug, approved in 2019 and branded as Adakveo, has failed an ongoing Phase III, according to preliminary results.

The Swiss pharma giant unveiled early data from the ongoing STAND Phase III study on Friday, saying that crizanlizumab showed no statistically significant difference between the drug at two different dose levels compared to placebo in annualized rates of vaso-occlusive crises that lead to a healthcare visit over the first year since being randomized into the trial.

Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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FDA ap­proves an­oth­er in­di­ca­tion for Keytru­da, this time in the ad­ju­vant NSCLC set­ting

Merck’s blockbuster cancer treatment Keytruda has been handed another indication by the FDA.

The US regulator announced on Thursday that it has approved Keytruda to serve as an adjuvant treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is its fifth indication in NSCLC and 34th indication overall.

According to a Merck release, the approval is based on data from a Phase III trial, dubbed Keynote-091, which measured disease-free survival in patients who received chemotherapy following surgery. The data from Merck displayed that Keytruda cut down on the risk of disease recurrence or death by 27% versus placebo.

Ying Huang, Legend CEO

J&J, Leg­end say Carvyk­ti beat stan­dard ther­a­py in ear­li­er-line blood can­cer

J&J and Legend Biotech’s next step in turning their CAR-T therapy Carvykti into a potential megablockbuster has succeeded, the companies said Friday.

Carvykti achieved the primary endpoint — progression-free survival — in an open-label Phase III study testing the treatment in second- to fourth-line multiple myeloma patients. The CARTITUDE-4 trial, for which there aren’t any hard data yet, represents the biggest development for Carvykti’s ability to compete with Bristol Myers Squibb’s Abecma since its approval last February.

Dutch biotech starts liq­ui­da­tion af­ter end­ing PhI­II in GVHD

A 13-year-old Dutch biotech is going through a liquidation process after an unexpected end to its Phase III trial testing whether its combination of two monoclonal antibodies was superior to Incyte’s Jakafi.

Xenikos had hoped to prove its investigational therapy, named T-Guard, was better than Jakafi at garnering a complete response in patients experiencing life-threatening complications in which new cells from a hematopoietic stem cell transplant begin to fight the body. Jakafi was approved for the indication, steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease, in May 2019.

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Eliot Forster, F-star CEO (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

F-star gets down to the wire with $161M sale to Chi­nese buy­er as na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns linger

With the clock ticking on F-star Therapeutics’ takeover by a Chinese buyer, the companies are still scrambling to remove a hold on the deal from the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

F-star and invoX Pharma said they are “actively negotiating” with CFIUS “about the terms of a mitigation agreement to address CFIUS’s concerns regarding potential national security risks posed by the transaction.”

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