Friday Five – The week in review

Key data readouts…

There were a number of notable Phase III data readouts this week, including Teva's migraine treatment fremanezumab, Gilead Sciences' combination of bictegravir and Descovy for HIV and Eli Lilly's Cyramza in second-line bladder cancer.

AnalysisViewPoints: With new data in hand, Teva's less frequently dosed migraine therapy could prove a masterstroke, ViewPoints: Gilead banking on ‘good enough’ being good enough with bictegravir and ViewPoints: Can Cyramza meet Keytruda's bladder cancer benchmark?

…and notable Licensing deals

Johnson & Johnson scored a preclinical deal with Protagonist Therapeutics for an oral therapy targeting the IL-23 pathway – a mechanism of action it knows well – with the intention of treating Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis – ViewPoints: Johnson & Johnson sticks to familiar territory with Protagonist Therapeutics deal.

Merck & Co. in-licensed a preclinical antibody that targets tau, for the potential treatment of Alzheimer's disease, from Teijin Pharma. Merck already has a BACE inhibitor in late-stage development for prodromal AD, while the Teijin deal furthers momentum for agents targeting tau, following Biogen's deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb in April – ViewPoints: Biogen licensing deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb may be a signal of intent.

Expert weighs in on treatment of molecularly defined cancers

The FDA deserves considerable credit for its recent precedent-setting approval of Keytruda for certain types of cancer caused by particular mutations regardless of histology, a leading key opinion leader (KOL) told FirstWord this week – KOL Views: Leading oncologist outlines road forward and potential pratfalls for new era of genetically defined cancer drugs.

Expanding the use of genetic testing in tumour settings where oncologists are not used to routinely doing so may prove the biggest challenge in driving increased use of drugs for molecularly defined cancers, the KOL noted…"One concern is testing fatigue. If you test every patient with advanced incurable cancer you are only going to find 4 percent who are positive [for MSI-H or dMMR]. So testing 100 patients means you are only expected to find four who are appropriate for Keytruda. You can imagine a scenario where a physician has seen 25 patients and not found a candidate for treatment so they might stop testing."

Tesaro said to be mulling a sale

Fresh from its success in securing US approval for the potential blockbuster ovarian cancer treatment Zejula (which is said to be enjoying an impressive launch), Tesaro is said to be exploring a potential sale, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Physician Views Poll Results: Broad label should mean broad and rapid adoption for Tesaro's Zejula

The company has been tipped as a potential Big Pharma buyout for some time, but interest at this time is said to be lukewarm, sources added. Despite Zejula's status as a key player in the emerging field of PARP inhibitors, pending readout of late-stage data for AstraZeneca and Clovis Oncology's competing products in this drug class could delay any deal; the latter is a notably cheaper option at this juncture, while the former is enjoying a resurgence in the targeted cancer therapy market.

Spotlight On: Optimism for PD-1/PARP combinations remains intact as Tesaro prompts speculation it can play with the big boys

What we're waiting for at ASCO this weekend…

Presentation of Roche's data from the APHINITY trial assessing Herceptin and Perjeta in adjuvant HER2-positive breast cancer…  Phase II data for the PD-1/IDO inhibitor combination being studied by Merck & Co. and Incyte across multiple tumour types…  CAR-T data being presented by bluebird bio (BMCA in multiple myeloma) and Kite Pharma (for adult acute lymphocytic leukaemia)…Presentation of results from AstraZeneca's OlympiAD trial assessing the PARP inhibitor Lynparza in BRCA-mutation breast cancer…  Presentation of data from Roche's ALEX study assessing Alecensa as a first-line therapy for ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer.

ViewPoints: ASCO preview – KOLs excited about Lynparza's potential in triple-negative breast cancer

ViewPoints: ASCO preview – Roche's APHINITY results are hard to call, say experts

ViewPoints: Incyte emerges as clear winner from ASCO abstract dump

ViewPoints: Merck & Co.'s Keytruda/chemo combination shown to be trending towards a survival benefit

KOL Views: Alunbrig will have difficulty attracting use in front-line ALK-positive NSCLC, but may be able to lock down still-lucrative second-line market

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