Nektar Therapeutics recently decided to stop all trials involving its key cancer drug due to its failure in multiple studies. However, this announcement dragged the drug developer’s shares down by 23 per cent in after-market trading.
The trials that the durg maker stopped included those involving a combination of bempegaldesleukin with Bristol Myers Squibb Co’s cancer drug Opdivo as well as Merck & Co Inc’s Keytruda.
Developed by Nektar Therapeutics, Bempegaldesleukin is an experimental anti-cancer drug candidate. The drug is a PEGylated interleukin-2 which acts as a CD122-preferential IL-2 pathway and activates CD8⁺ T cells and NK cells. While, Opdivo and Keytruda developed by Bristol Myers Squibb Co and Merck & Co Inc respectively, are medications used to treat a number of cancers.
Keytruda, known as a humanized antibody is used in cancer immunotherapy. The drug helps in treating melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stomach cancer, and certain types of breast cancer. It is given by slow injection into a vein of the human body.
According to news agency Reuters, Nektar and Bristol Myers were testing the combination therapy through an agreement signed in 2020, while the one with Keytruda involved a partnership with SFJ Pharmaceuticals last year.
Last month, Nektar and Bristol Myers discontinued two late-stage studies testing their combination therapy in melanoma patients after one of the trials failed to achieve its crucial goal.
On Thursday, both Nektar and Bristol stated that the combination of drugs failed in another late-stage study in patients with renal cell carcinoma, and in a study testing the therapy in urothelial carcinoma which is a type of bladder cancer.
As the company has halted multiple trials of its key drug, it also stated that it will announce a new strategic plan to harness the expenditure to meet its cash runway goals.