Amgens KRAS success has other drugmakers eager to follow

Dive Brief:

  • After decades of frustrated research efforts, enthusiasm is rising for early-stage clinical work to develop drugs that target a genetic mutation known as KRAS, an oncogene known to be behind many lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers.
  • Initial findings from an Amgen study, revealed at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, were the first clinical proof of therapeutic activity for a KRAS inhibitor. Now, Swiss pharma Novartis is partnering on a combination study in KRAS-positive tumors with Mirati Therapeutics, a San Diego biotech developing a potential rival to Amgen’s experimental drug.
  • The collaboration between Novartis and Mirati is non-exclusive, and no investment was disclosed. Still, Wall Street analysts viewed the partnership as a positive sign for Mirati’s clinical development.

Dive Insight:

Amgen’s ASCO data, presented in June, were from just 10 patients. Given the track record in KRAS clinical development, however, the five responses observed were enough to boost shares in both Amgen and Mirati.

Both companies have continued to benefit from raised investor expectations around their respective efforts, with Amgen up 9% and Mirati up 54% since the former’s presentation. For Mirati, that stock gain has added $1.6 billion to its market worth, making the biotech’s expected data readout in the second half of this year a major biotech event.

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