Monday, April 2, 2012

Quick hits

Ho-hum, another $1B oncology product for Roche. Despite the mild reception in the business press, this is HUGE news: Roche is about to receive approval for T-DM1, a drug that combines the targeted therapy of Herceptin with the benefit of chemotherapy. Perhaps Herceptin is old news (approved in 1998), but this is a story where everybody wins: Roche gets a product with a "fresh" patent clock and an advantage over any biosimilar Herceptin clones, patients get better outcomes with fewer side effects, and the drug design & drug delivery folks now have another validated approach to beating cancer. Combos are the future!

This just in: science is hard! A research team at Amgen tried to duplicate the research behind 53 important cancer research advancements published in leading journals. They were successful in duplicating the original findings in only 11% of of their experiements. Let's hope that there's some selection bias in Amgen's research, or some other explanation - I'd hate to think that 89% of all cancer research is wrong - though this most likely reflects the pressure to publish among academics.

First setback for a PI3K inhibitor. PI-3 kinase targets have been in vogue for about 4 years, with several of the top 20 pharmas with active discovery programs addressing multiple isoforms of PI3K. The first Phase III clinical trials of a PI3K inhibitor - by Keryx & Aeterna have concluded, with negative results. This might, however, not be a reflection of the merit of PI3K as a target, but rather a reflection of how unlikely microcap drug developers are to successfully develop cancer therapeutics, and another lesson for investors that if a biotech's lead compound can't win a partnership with a big pharma company, you probably shouldn't put your capital behind it either.

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