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.
The deal comes a year after Array got a significant FDA approval for its MEK inhibitor binimetinib, sold as Mektovi, as well as encorafenib — a BRAF inhibitor now dubbed Braftovi. That was the jewel in the crown acquired in Pfizer’s $11.4 billion deal for Array on Monday.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
SpringWorks was launched with two repurposed Pfizer drugs — including a MEK inhibitor being redirected toward neurofibromatosis type 1-associated plexiform neurofibromas. Dubbed PD-0325901, SpringWorks say they’ll now “consider” pairing the former Pfizer drug with the new BRAF inhibitor from BeiGene for…cancer. If successful, Pfizer will find itself competing against one of its former pipeline drugs.
BeiGene CEO John Oyler, who’s been working on a pipeline of drugs he intends to see adopted as best- and first-in-class therapies — outdoing his rivals in PD-1 and now MEK/BRAF — says in a statement he’s pleased to be moving into human trials.
Lusong Luo, SVP of external innovation at BeiGene, will be acting CEO of MapKure. And MSK’s Neal Rosen is stepping on board as the founding member of the scientific advisory board.
“Preclinical data demonstrate that BGB-3245 could potentially address a significant unmet medical need for patients with non-V600 B-RAF mutations or RAF fusions that are presently unaddressed with approved B-RAF-directed therapies. In addition, BGB-3245’s preclinical activity in cancer models driven by V600 B-RAF mutations demonstrate that it could provide an additional therapeutic option for these patients with the potential to reduce dimer-driven resistances,” Rosen said in a statement.
Take that, Pfizer.