Protagonist investors flake as psoriasis pill disappoints
JNJ-2113 appears better than established oral psoriasis drugs, based on a cross-trial comparison using 16-week data from the phase 2 Frontier-1 trial, presented today. But it has fallen short of the “biologic-like” efficacy that Johnson & Johnson wanted to see; J&J has previously said JNJ-2113 would have to match the efficacy of its injectable anti-IL-23 psoriasis product Tremfya to justify further development. The asset’s originator, Protagonist Therapeutics, has borne the brunt of the disappointment, with its stock slumping 28% on concern that J&J might cool on the project. The small biotech will receive $50m milestone on the start of phase 3 trials, and news on that front is now keenly awaited to calm jitters. Though disappointing for Protagonist and J&J, the readout has been a clear positive for Ventyx Biosciences. The group is up 21% as investors believe the way is now clear for its Tyk2 inhibitor VTX958 – one of biotech’s most valuable unpartnered assets – to distinguish itself as a promising oral when its phase 2 Serenity PsO trial reads out this year. Full Frontier-1 results are expected in a late breaker presentation at the World Congress of Dermatology in Singapore at 9pm Eastern time tonight.
Note: All data are placebo adjusted. Pasi-90 data were not released for Amgen's Otezla in the Psor-1 and -2 trials. Tremfya is subcutaneous; all the others are oral. Data at 12-16 weeks.