PhI fiz­zle forces Sy­ros to spike its lead drug, trig­ger­ing an­oth­er rout on shares

Less than stel­lar Phase I re­sults have trig­gered a pipeline cleanup at Sy­ros Phar­ma, where one of its two lead drugs — a CDK7 in­hibitor ad­min­is­tered in­tra­venous­ly — is get­ting swapped out with an oral ver­sion.

The biotech said it main­tains its be­lief in the CDK7 path­way for can­cer, but thinks pri­or­i­tiz­ing SY-5609, which ap­pears more se­lec­tive and po­tent in pre­clin­i­cal mod­els, is a wis­er choice than hold­ing on­to an IV drug that didn’t quite em­body the op­ti­mal bal­ance be­tween ef­fi­ca­cy and tol­er­a­bil­i­ty. A hu­man tri­al for SY-5609 is planned for ear­ly next year.

Sy­ros had po­si­tioned SY-1365 in a num­ber of sol­id tu­mors marked by spe­cif­ic ge­net­ic mu­ta­tions, in­clud­ing ovar­i­an and breast can­cers. Hav­ing treat­ed 68 pa­tients in an ex­pan­sion por­tion of the tri­al with both sin­gle-agent and com­bi­na­tion ther­a­pies — tar­get­ing some pa­tients who are re­sis­tant to CDK4/6 in­hibitors — in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­clud­ed they would need more fre­quent dos­ing to sus­tain the lev­el of CDK7 they need.

No­tably, on­ly 24 pa­tients were evalu­able at the da­ta cut­off, and none had bet­ter re­sponse than sta­ble dis­ease. Of those treat­ed with sin­gle-agent SY-1365, 42% had sta­ble dis­ease as de­fined by RE­CIST cri­te­ria, and the per­cent­age was 64% in the com­bo group (who were al­so giv­en ful­ves­trant or car­bo­platin).

Nan­cy Si­mon­ian Sy­ros

“We have gained im­por­tant in­sights from our work on SY-1365 that have in­formed our de­vel­op­ment strat­e­gy for SY-5609, in­clud­ing fo­cus­ing on pa­tient pop­u­la­tions most like­ly to re­spond to a CDK7 in­hibitor,” CEO Nan­cy Si­mon­ian said in a state­ment. “We are pri­or­i­tiz­ing SY-5609 be­cause we be­lieve it has best-in-class po­ten­tial and that it pro­vides the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­al­ize the promise of se­lec­tive CDK7 in­hi­bi­tion for pa­tients.”

In­vestors, though, saw the glass half emp­ty. Shares $SYRS are down 33.32% to $6.74.

This is not the first time Sy­ros’ lead drugs have dis­ap­point­ed. SY-1425, their RARα ag­o­nist de­ployed against acute myeloid leukemia, flopped in a Phase II two years ago. Sy­ros is con­duct­ing an­oth­er tri­al pair­ing the drug with azac­i­ti­dine, the stan­dard of care, that they say is turn­ing up high­er re­sponse rates. They will need some sol­id, hard da­ta to win skep­tics back.

UP­DAT­ED: Roche bags 'break­through' an­ti-fi­bro­sis drug in $1.4B biotech buy­out deal

Roche is snapping up a “breakthrough” anti-fibrotic drug in a $1.4 billion buyout.

The pharma giant announced Friday that it is acquiring Promedior, primarily to get its hands on PRM-151, a recombinant form of human pentraxin-2 (PTX-2) protein that has nailed down mid-stage clinical data on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and demonstrating its potential for a range of fibrotic conditions.

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Amarin emerges from an ex­pert pan­el re­view with a clear en­dorse­ment for Vas­cepa and high odds of suc­cess when the FDA weighs in for­mal­ly

Several FDA experts who gathered Thursday to consider the landmark approval of Vascepa to reduce cardio events in an at-risk population voiced their unease about various aspects of the efficacy and safety data, or ultimately the population it should be used to treat. But the overwhelming belief that the data pointed to the drug’s benefit and clearly outweighed risks carried the day for Amarin.

The panel voted unanimously (16 to 0) to support the company’s positive data presentation — backing an OK for expanding the label to include reducing cardio risk. The vote points Amarin $AMRN down a short path to a formal decision by the FDA, with the odds heavily in its favor. Chances are the rest of the questions about the future of this drug will be hashed out in the label’s small print.

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No­var­tis spin­out’s first an­ti-ag­ing PhI­II is a flop, so now they’ll turn to Parkin­son’s chal­lenge as shares wilt

Novartis spinout resTORbio is grappling with the collapse of its lead clinical program this morning — an anti-aging R&D failure that will badly damage their rep in the field.

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No­var­tis scores its lat­est FDA OK — this time for a new sick­le cell dis­ease drug picked up in a $665M deal

Novartis’ decision to buy Oklahoma-based biotech Selexys 3 years ago for up to $665 million has paid off with an FDA approval today.

Blessed with the FDA’s breakthrough drug designation for a speedy review, the pharma giant has pinned down an approval for crizanlizumab, a new therapy designed to reduce the frequency of painful incidents of vaso-occlusive crises among sickle cell disease patients 16 or older.

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As­traZeneca gains EU nod for di­a­betes triple; Am­gen and Duke launch re­al-world PC­SK9 ob­ser­va­tion­al study

→ Weeks after winning EU approval to start marketing dapagliflozin as Forxiga, AstraZeneca has racked up another OK for a triplet combo involving the SGLT2 diabetes drug. Named Qtrilmet, the pill combines Forxiga with the DPP-4 inhibitor Onglyza (saxagliptin) and the bedrock drug metformin in a modified-release format. That 3-in-1 approach proved superior in reducing average blood glucose levels to a number of other dual combinations across 5 Phase III trials, including Forxiga plus metformin, Onglyza with metformin, or glimepiride with metformin.

Five drugs, in­clud­ing two No­var­tis ther­a­pies, win EMA en­dorse­ment

As is custom, an EMA panel on Friday issued its weekly recommendations on marketing applications submitted by drug developers. This week, the agency backed the use of five new therapies — including two Novartis drugs — but issued no negative reviews.

Novartis’ S1P drug for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, Mayzent (known chemically as siponimod), which was approved by the FDA in March — has been given the nod by the EMA. The Swiss drugmaker already sells its other MS drug, Gilenya, in both regions.

Atom­wise's X-37 spin­out gets $14.5 mil­lion to launch AI dis­cov­ery ef­forts

The folks behind Atomwise’s spinout X-37 like to think in cosmological metaphors, and you can think of their AI drug development model as probes sent into space from a central station. That station just got $14.5 million in Series A funding from DCVC Bio, Alpha Intelligence Capital and Hemi Ventures to back those missions.

X-37 uses Atomwise’s AI platform to identify drug targets and – unlike the parent company, which largely sticks to computers  – bring those into a wet lab and preclinical testing.  In addition to AI professionals, it’s led in by part by drug developers from Velocity Pharmaceutical Development.

Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries CEO Miles White pass­es ba­ton down to suc­ces­sor; Lon­za CEO Marc Funk hits the ex­it

→ Abbott Laboratories has named a successor to CEO Miles White after he announced that he was stepping down in March after 21 years of service. Robert Ford, the company’s COO and president, will take the helm. Ford is known for his work in the $25 billion merger between St. Jude Medical into Abbott in January 2017. White will remain with the company as executive chairman of the board. 

→ After snapping up Novartis’ Swiss facility, Novartis Center of Excellence, in July, Lonza has announced that their CEO, Marc Funk, is hitting the exit for “personal reasons.” Funk has been the CEO of the company for less than a year — brought onto the company back in March. In the meantime, chairman Albert Baehny will serve as interim CEO. 

BeiGene CEO John Oyler at an Endpoints event in Shanghai, October 2018 (Credit: Endpoints News/PharmCube)

UP­DAT­ED: In a first, FDA green-lights use of a Chi­nese built can­cer ther­a­py — and more are com­ing

Weeks after Amgen took a $2.7 billion stake in BeiGene, the Beijing-based biotech has secured its first-ever FDA approval for zanubrutinib, a BTK inhibitor, months ahead of schedule.

BeiGene’s drug, branded as Brukinsa, has secured accelerated approval for adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) — a typically aggressive, rare, form of blood cancer — who have received at least one prior therapy.

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