Portola celebrates oncology success, courtesy of an obscure source


Development of Syk inhibitors is not exactly a brand new area of science, but it might come as a surprise which company has emerged as the latest to claim a clinical success with it. That group is Portola, better known as the developer of drugs for deep vein thrombosis and anticoagulant reversal. The Syk inhibitor in question, cerdulatinib, acts on Jak as well as Syk, and came to Portola via a low-key discovery alliance signed in 2013 with Aciex Therapeutics. The following year Aciex was sold for $65m to Nicox, a group now focused on ophthalmology. Data presented this month concerned follicular lymphoma patients who had on average failed three prior treatments: in 40 subjects given cerdulatinib monotherapy there were five complete and 13 partial remissions, while in 13 given a Rituxan combo the respective CR and PR rates were 8% and 54%, Portola said. The competitor pipeline is fairly busy, but remarkably few Syk inhibitors are in clinical development in oncology, so Portola looks for now to have a good shot at being first to market.

Selected clinical-stage Syk inhibitors in oncology indications
Project Company Mechanism Indication Status
Cerdulatinib  Portola Syk & Jak inhibitor Leukaemias/lymphomas Phase II
Entospletinib  Gilead Syk inhibitor Leukaemias/lymphomas Phase II
TAK-659 Takeda Syk & FLT3 inhibitor Leukaemias/lymphomas Phase II
HMPL-523 Hutchison China Meditech Syk inhibitor Leukaemias/lymphomas Phase II
ASN002 Asana BioSciences Syk & Jak inhibitor Lymphoma Phase I terminated
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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