Cana can’t – can Cantargia?


Novartis’s canakinumab always looked like a long shot in cancer, and today the company confirmed the worst: the Canopy-2 trial, in second or third-line metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, has failed. The anti-IL-1 beta antibody is still in a couple more pivotal NSCLC studies, but these must now be regarded as pretty slim hopes. The Swiss group's stock sank 1% today, but a bigger loser was Cantargia, the developer of the next most advanced similar project: Can04 or nidanilimab, which inhibits the IL-1 receptor accessory protein, is in a phase II study in several solid tumours and could yield data next year. Can04, like canakinumab, is also being tested in combination with Keytruda. Its 2026 sales forecasts sit at $564m, according to EvaluatePharma’s sellside consensus. Cantargia’s investors have been spooked by the cana readout; the company’s shares are down 23% so far today. Meanwhile, Novartis has another shot at IL-1 with VPM087, or gevokizumab, which is in a phase I basket trial. An allosteric inhibitor of IL-1 beta, gevokizumab has a slightly different mechanism than the competitive inhibitor cana, but success for the follow-on project now also looks dicey.

Anti-IL-1 projects in development for cancer
Project Company Description Indication(s)  Trial details & readouts
Phase III
Canakinumab Novartis Anti-IL-1 beta MAb (competitive inhibitor) NSCLC  Canopy-2, 2L (NCT03626545), failed; Canopy-1, 1L, Keytruda combo (NCT03631199), data due H2 2021; Canopy-A, adjuvant (NCT03447769), data due 2022
Phase II
Can04 (nidanilimab) Cantargia Anti-IL1RAP MAb Solid tumours incl pancreatic cancer & NSCLC Ph2 Canfour (NCT03267316), completed Dec 2020; Ph1 Keytruda combo (NCT04452214), completes Jan 2022
Phase I
VPM087 (gevokizumab) Novartis Anti-IL-1 beta MAb (allosteric inhibitor) Colorectal, renal & gastro-oesophageal cancers 1L (NCT03798626)
Source: EvaluatePharma &

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