Amgen's proposed acquisition of Five Prime Therapeutics for $1.9bn in cash, accessing its lead oncology programme bemarituzumab - a FGFR2b monoclonal antibody - provides excellent validation of the commercial potential of Basilea’s FGFR inhibitor derazantinib. Basilea’s current market cap is roughly $600m, with two anti-infectives already commercialised and a pipeline of oncology candidates, including its FGFR inhibitor.
While the FGFR inhibitor class of targeted anti-cancer agents have been sitting in the shadow of the rush to immunotherapy, and in particular the checkpoint inhibitors, the approvals of Incyte and J&J’s FGFR inhibitors, Pemazyre (biliary cancer) and Balversa (urothelial cancer), have proven to be important additions to the physician's armamentarium in previously intractable cancers. In urothelial cancer, the performance of the checkpoint inhibitors has been lacklustre, leading to FDA label revisions and potentially opening the door for alternative approaches such as Basilea's derazantinib in combination with Roche’s Tecentriq.
Five Prime’s bemarituzumab has already delivered positive results in the Phase 2 FIGHT trial in gastric cancer - arguably one of the most challenging of cancers. Amgen’s acquisition we suspect reflects the potential for this targeted approach in other difficult to treat cancers such as lung, breast and ovarian cancers. We believe all of the above bodes well for the future potential of Basilea's participation in this field through its small molecule candidate derazantinib. Derazantinib recently delivered positive data in biliary cancer (FIDES-01 study) and the real differentiation from other participants relies on its potential ability to boost the activity of the checkpoint inhibitors in urothelial (FIDES-02 study) and gastric cancer (FIDES-03 study). The next 12-18 months promise to be an exciting time for the FGFR inhibitors class as appreciation of the commercial potential becomes clearer. Basilea promises to be a beneficiary if positive data are delivered. (See our full research report on derazantinib here).
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Basilea Pharmaceutica is a client of Calvine Partners and as such, this publication is not independent and should be considered a marketing communication under FCA Rules. None of the information contained in this publication should be considered as any form of advice.