Lilly scraps two research assets, leaving few rivals behind

Apart from the disappointing first-quarter financials released by Lilly this morning – sales of key products Trulicity and Taltz underwhelmed, and revenue guidance was reined in – a couple of pipeline discontinuations caught the eye. Prexasertib, a Chk-1 inhibitor, and a PI3k/Mtor kinase inhibitor, presumably samotolisib, have been scrubbed from the mid-stage oncology pipeline, decisions that will not have escaped certain competitors’ notice. Abandoning samotolisib is not surprising, given the poor track record of similar agents. Broadly acting PI3k inhibitors have disappointed, and researchers have had little success with compounds that purport to hit other kinases or inhibit other parts of this signalling pathway. Pfizer seems to be the only company investing in any notable way in a PI3k/mTor asset, gedatolisib, though data are some way off. Meanwhile, the scrapping of prexasertib follows the exit of Roche from the Chk-1 mechanism last year. No reasons were given by either company, but this is not encouraging news for Sierra Oncology, which appears to own the only remaining clinical-stage asset in this space.

Selected PI3k/mTor targeting agents
Product Company Comment 
Active project
Gedatolisib Pfizer Phase I Ibrance combination trials ongoing.
Abandoned mid-stage projects?
LY3023414 (samotolisib) Lilly Abandoned in 2019.
Apitolisib Roche Presumed abandoned (no longer listed in pipeline).
SF1126 Signalrx  Status unclear (company funding issues?).
Voxtalisib Sanofi/Exelixis Abandoned in 2016.
PF-04691502 Pfizer Abandoned in 2012.
Source: EvaluatePharma.


Targeting Chk-1 – a limited pipeline
Product Company Comment
Active project? 
SRA737 Sierra Oncology Phase I/II ovarian cancer trials ongoing (licensed from Sareum).
CASC-578 Seattle Genetics Preclinical (acquired with Cascadian Therapeutics in 2018). 
Abandoned projects
Prexasertib Lilly Abandoned in phase II 2019 (derived from Icos/Array collaboration).
RG7741 Roche Abandoned in phase I in 2018 (licensed from Array).
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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