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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Gilead bulks up its oncology pipeline

Cash-rich Gilead Sciences has found a new place to invest some of its money: It’s dropped $275 million for a 49.9% stake in Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, with the option to buy it outright if the biotech’s cancer therapy does well in the clinic. That would cost another $315 million.

Pionyr’s technology, called myeloid tuning, works by reconstructing the tumor microenvironment so that it’s more habitable for the myeloid cells that help activate the immune system. Its antibodies could help boost the effect of checkpoint inhibitor drugs, and two are already being tested with Pionyr’s platform — Merck’s Keytruda and Yervoy from Bristol Myers Squibb. 

This is the latest in Gilead’s concerted efforts to bulk up its immuno-oncology pipeline. It acquired Kite Pharma for $12.9 billion buyout in 2017 and Forty Seven for $5 billion earlier this year. 

What's new in targeted therapies?

While immunotherapies get most of the headlines, targeted cancer treatments have revolutionized oncology in recent years, changing the lives of some patients by homing in on genetically defined tumors.

Join STAT’s Damian Garde for a webinar later today on targeted therapies. He’ll take a look at some of the most important recently approved targeted therapies and examine the pipeline of medicines in the making. That means looking at the underlying science, the clinical data, and the often surprising costs associated with these drugs. 

Register here.

Public Citizen has a warning on diabetes drugs

Public Citizen is pressing the FDA to amplify its warnings about a class of diabetes drugs called SGLT-2 inhibitors. The consumer advocacy group argues that drugs like Eli Lilly’s Jardiance and AstraZeneca’s Farxiga merit a “black box” warning geared at people with type 1 diabetes in light of hundreds of cases of ketoacidosis, a serious complication. 

These SGLT-2 drugs are approved for treatment of type 2 diabetes, but are not for people with type 1. Some physicians, however, will prescribe these drugs for type 1 anyway.

“The current dangerous off-label prescribing of these drugs with type 1 diabetes, which has been well documented by the FDA, is enabled by the dangerous incompleteness and submerged prominence of the warnings about the risk of [ketoacidosis] in the current product labeling,” Public Citizen wrote in a petition. 

Read more.

Myovant's late-stage success with hormone blocking

A hormone-blocking drug from Myovant Sciences reduced pain that stems from endometriosis in a late-stage trial. The results, which were released via press release and haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, showed that about three-quarters of the 600 women studied had less pain during menstruation — compared to only 27% of the women on placebo.

The drug, called relugolix, is also being studied as a treatment for uterine fibroids and advanced prostate cancer. It works by limiting the body’s production of ovarian estradiol,  which spurs the growth of uterine fibroids and endometriosis, and also testicular testosterone, which exacerbates prostate cancer. 

Read more.

More reads

  • ArcherDX drops IPO plans in favor of a $1.4 billion takeover by Invitae. (FierceBiotech)
  • We have the technology to stop a second wave. (Bloomberg)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Damian

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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