3 Things In Biotech, July 24: Chinese Biotechs Seek A Splash

by: Zach Hartman

Beigene gets closer with its PD-1 antibody.

Hutchison MediPharma gets its angiogenesis drug moving in neuroendocrine tumors.

Acceleron looks to ACE its new rare disease drug.

Welcome to another edition of "3 Things In Biotech You Should Learn Today," a daily digest dedicated to helping you keep pace with the fast-moving world of pharmaceutical and biotechnology research.

Beigene gets closer with its PD-1 antibody

Company: Beigene (NASDAQ:BGNE) and Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG)

Therapy: Tislelizumab

Disease: Hodgkin lymphoma

News: BGNE announced top line findings from its ongoing phase 2 study investigating its PD-1 antibody tislelizumab in patients with relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. Out of the 70 patients who were enrolled in the study, 73% achieved a response of some kind, with 35/70 (50%) achieving complete remission. Safety results were consistent with prior experience with tislelizumab and were not surprising given the now-extensive experience with other PD-1 antibodies on the market like Merck’s (NYSE:MRK) pembrolizumab and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (NYSE:BMY) nivolumab.

Looking forward: These findings will almost certainly form the basis for an application for approval with the FDA and other regulators, and that will mean that both Celgene and Beigene will make their market entry for tislelizumab in an increasingly competitive space. It will be interesting to see how tislelizumab makes its presence known amidst a growing sea of immune checkpoint inhibitors. If it actually shakes out that inhibition of PD-1 is superior to PD-L1, then we may actually end up seeing tislelizumab succeed.

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Hutchison MediPharma gets its angiogenesis drug moving in neuroendocrine tumors

Company: Hutchison MediPharma Limited (NASDAQ:HCM)

Therapy: Sulfatinib

Disease: Biliary tract cancer

News: HCM announced that it has initiated a phase 1b/2 proof-of-concept study involving its multikinase inhibitor, sulfatinib, for the treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and biliary tract cancer. Patients in this study will have relapsed on standard first-line therapy. HCM will look for progression-free survival, response rates, and disease control rate, among other endpoints.

Looking forward: These two tumor remain major unmet needs in oncology, although neuroendocrine tumors, in particular, have undergone a significant evolution in the standard of care. HCM is going to have to show something very interesting to get this going, and I am not certain that a proof-of-concept study is going to be what gets the company there.

Buy, sell, or hold? Locked

Acceleron looks to ACE its new rare disease drug

Company: Acceleron Pharma (NASDAQ:XLRN)

Therapy: ACE-083

Disease: Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)

News: XLRN announced preliminary data from the first part of its phase 2 study investigating ACE-083 in patients with CMT. Patients in the three cohorts enrolled to date have achieved an increase in total muscle volume at day 106 ranging from 12.6% to 14.2%. This corresponded with increases in contractile muscle volume at day 106 ranging from 15.8% to 19.6%.

Looking forward: While it's still early days for this study, these results definitely support further exploration in patients with CMT. Although this disease is rare, it remains without any significant treatment options, so XLRN may be on to yet another interesting developmental product to complement its oncology pipeline.

Buy, sell, or hold? Locked

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