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Boehringer bolsters KRAS push with $720m Lupin deal

Signs of progress in the field are emerging

BI

Boehringer Ingelheim has licensed a MEK inhibitor from India’s Lupin that it intends to pair with its stable of KRAS inhibitors, a cornerstone of its emerging cancer drug pipeline.

The German drugmaker is paying $20m upfront for rights to Lupin’s LNP3794 – which has cleared preliminary clinical trials in solid tumours – with up to $700m in additional payments possible if the development programme goes as planned.

It’s the second agreement in the KRAS area for Boehringer in a matter of weeks, coming after the company formed a partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Centre in the US to combine their expertise in this area.

Mutations in the KRAS pathway are involved in around a third of all cancers but despite more than three decades of R&D, researchers have been unable to bring an effective KRAS-targeting drug to market.

Once considered all-but ‘undruggable’, there are signs of progress in the KRAS field, with Amgen reporting encouraging anti-tumour activity with its AMG 510 candidate – which targets a KRAS mutation known as G12C – earlier this year.

Boehringer is also on the hunt for KRAS drugs, focusing particularly on gastrointestinal and lung cancer, and says Lupin’s MEK inhibitor will be combined with one of its candidates in the hope of providing “more effective and durable responses” in KRAS-driven tumours.

“We believe this collaboration will significantly strengthen our KRAS programme,” said Boehringer’s head of cancer research Norbert Kraut.

“We have developed comprehensive approaches to successfully tackle the oncogenic KRAS–RAF–MEK–ERK pathway from the ground up and this partnership is another key building block in our long-term strategy to bring novel treatments to patients in our quest to defeat intractable cancer types,” he added.

Other companies including Johnson & Johnson and Mirati are also working on KRAS, but Lupin's partnership with Boehringer represents the first time that a MEK/KRAS inhibitor combination will be put to the test.

MEK inhibitors are well established in oncology, but to date have been used mainly in combination with BRAF inhibitors in cancers such as melanoma.

For Lupin, Boehringer is the second big biopharma partner for its pipeline of novel cancer drugs. Last December, it licensed rights to MALT1 inhibitor immuno-oncology therapies to AbbVie in a $30m upfront deal with another $947m in milestones.

Article by
Phil Taylor

5th September 2019

From: Sales

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