3 Things In Biotech, August 3: Bristol Assaults Melanoma In Europe Again

by: Zach Hartman

Bristol-Myers marches on in European melanoma care.

Amgen partner claims milestone for a lipid-lowering study.

Nicox moves forward with its glaucoma study.

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

Bristol-Myers marches on in European melanoma care

Company: Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)

Therapy: Nivolumab

Disease: Melanoma

News: BMY announced that the EMA has approved its PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab in the setting of adjuvant therapy for melanoma after a complete resection. Patients can receive this treatment regardless of their BRAF mutational status. The approval was based on findings from the CheckMate-238 study, which demonstrated a significant improvement for nivolumab over ipilimumab in the adjuvant setting in terms of recurrence-free survival.

Looking forward: Another small cog in the machine that BMY continues to build up. Obviously losing the top sales spot to Merck (MRK) wasn't going to slow its roll, and these supplemental approvals are one important way of continuing to expand the franchise further. There's really not much more to say on the matter; this is just good news!

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Amgen partner claims milestone for a lipid-lowering study

Company: Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (ARWR) and Amgen (AMGN)

Therapy: AMG 890

Disease: Lipodystrophy

News: ARWR announced the recognition of a $10 million milestone payment in accordance with a partnership it has with AMGN. This milestone was collected on the basis of initiating a phase 1 clinical trial assessing the safety of this agent in volunteers with elevated levels of lipoprotein (a), which may be associated with increased risk of death due to cardiac complications.

Looking forward: For a company like ARWR that has under 2 years of operating capital left on hand, this kind of payment can be a decent salve for the concerns of shareholders. Of course, scientifically, we can't say much about this, as the trial is so early in stage. However, it is nice to see the clinical ball get rolling here.

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Nicox moves forward with its glaucoma study

Company: Nicox (OTCPK:NICXF)

Therapy: NCX 470

Disease: Glaucoma

News: NICXF announced that it has initiated a phase 2 study investigating its prostaglandin analog NCX 470 for the treatment of high intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension. The study has enrolled 10 patients out of a targeted 420 to be randomized either to NCX 470 or latanoprost, and the company hopes to have top-line data in the second half of 2019.

Looking forward: While meaningful, the overall effectiveness of latanoprost is moderate, leaving room for improvement. NICXF hopes to set itself apart in this space through its drug's secondary mechanism of action, which is to donate nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels. Time will tell whether the company has something very useful here, for sure.

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