After an R&D drought that lasted more than a decade, Merck KGaA may be coming out of the desert. Following two recent drug approvals, including the landmark FDA OK for checkpoint inhibitor Bavencio, the German Merck is now entering an R&D collaboration that might help fill its pipeline with new cancer drug contenders.
Findings In this population-based cohort study of more than 100, 000 predominantly postmenopausal women, risk reductions for ovarian cancer associated with increasing duration of oral contraceptive use were generally consistent across health behaviors. For endometrial cancer, the reductions were strongest among current smokers, obese women, and those who exercised rarely; lack of associations with breast and colorectal cancer were consistent across health behaviors.
Kyn is led by an Atlas entrepreneur-in-residence Mark Manfredi, who was previously chief scientific officer at Raze Therapeutics (also an Atlas-funded startup). Raze raised a $24 million Series A in 2014, but the company appears to have wound down pretty quickly. The website is no longer active, and Manfredi said Raze still has some assets and collaborations, but no longer employs anyone. Atlas’ Bruce Booth says the underlying cancer metabolism biology was too complicated to warrant further investment. Before Raze, Manfredi was VP of oncology biology at Takeda.
Hutchison China MediTech Limited (“Chi-Med”) (AIM/Nasdaq: HCM) has initiated the United States Phase I bridging clinical trial of fruquintinib. Fruquintinib is a highly selective and potent oral inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (“VEGFR”) 1, 2 and 3, that has met its primary endpoint in several Phase II and III clinical trials in China for the treatment of colorectal, lung and gastric cancers. The clinical study in the U.S. is a multi-center, open-label, Phase I clinical study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of fruquintinib in U.S. patients with advanced solid tumors. The first drug dose was administered earlier this month. Additional details about this study may be found at clinicaltrials.gov, using identifier NCT03251378.
The study, published December 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights the importance of vaccination for preventing the spread of HPV in young men before they become sexually active. Vaccination could potentially prevent reinfection in older men who have already contracted the virus.
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