Biotech faces setbacks after Incyte's experimental cancer drug fails testing - Technical.ly Delaware

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Apr. 9, 2018 7:28 am

Biotech faces setbacks after Incyte’s experimental cancer drug fails testing

After a promising start, the Wilmington biotech company announced Friday that its epacadostat trial did not improve patient outcomes.

If this is what you picture when you hear the word "biotech," read on.

(Photo by Flickr user Bill Dickinson, used under a Creative Commons license)

Wilmington-based Incyte’s promising cancer drug, epacadostat, failed in trial that paired it with Merck’s drug Keytruda — a setback for the Wilmington biotech company that caused a dramatic 18 percent drop in its shares Friday.

In a chain reaction, other biotech companies including NewLink Genetics Corp. in Ames, Iowa, and Corvus Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Burlingame, California, also saw their stocks fall.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Incyte’s drug, epacadostat, was previously viewed as one of the more promising of the next generation of cancer drugs designed to work by harnessing the patients’ own immune systems to destroy tumor cells.

Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and other companies sell older types of immunotherapies that have improved treatment for certain cancers including the skin cancer melanoma and lung cancer. The market for these drugs is booming: Merck’s global Keytruda sales more than doubled to $3.8 billion last year.

But they don’t work for every patient, so companies have been racing to test whether combining older immunotherapies with other drugs could further improve patient survival.

Although promising in early trials, it was found in a larger trial launched in 2016 that the combination of epacadostat and Keytruda did not improve outcomes in test patients.

Last summer, an AstraZeneca study testing two PLC immunotherapies for lung cancer failed, calling into question the effectiveness of previously promising combination drug therapy.

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