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In Brief This Week: Iksuda Therapeutics, Veru, BostonGene, Deep Lens, Lantern Pharma

NEW YORK – Iksuda Therapeutics this week licensed a HER2 antibody-drug conjugate program from Korean biopharma LegoChem Biosciences. Iksuda, based in Newcastle, UK, gained exclusive worldwide rights outside of greater China and South Korea to develop and commercialize LegoChem's LCB14, now dubbed IKS014. Iksuda expects to begin a Phase I trial of IKS014 in the US in Q3. Fosun Pharma is already studying the drug in a Phase I trial in HER2-positive breast cancer patients in China and plans to begin Phase II trials in that country in HER2-positive gastric cancer this year. 

Veru said this week that the US Food and Drug Administration has granted fast track designation to the firm's selective androgen receptor targeting agent enobosarm for androgen receptor-positive, estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer patients whose cancers have progressed after treatment with a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor, fulvestrant, and a CDK4/6 inhibitor. The Miami-based drugmaker is currently evaluating the agent in the Phase III ARTEST study, for which it is enrolling patients who have androgen receptor nuclei staining of at least 40 percent in tissue samples. 

Pharmacy benefit manager WellDyne will use BostonGene's cancer tumor profiling test to identify which patients with non-small cell lung, gastric, kidney, bladder, and skin cancers are eligible for immunotherapy, the companies said this week. Under a strategic collaboration between the two firms, Lakeland, Florida-based WellDyne will use BostonGene's Molecular Functional Portrait, an offering within its Tumor Portrait Tests, to gain insights into which patients are likely to benefit from immunotherapy. Waltham, Massachusetts-based BostonGene's Tumor Portrait Tests integrate genomic and transcriptomic analysis and identify the molecular, immune, and microenvironment properties driving patients' tumors.

WellDyne hopes to improve management of the total cost of care for cancer patients by implementing these tests, including Molecular Functional Portrait. BostonGene inked a similar partnership with NEC last year that allowed it to begin offering Tumor Portrait Tests to cancer patients in Japan.

Deep Lens and Hematology-Oncology Associates of Central New York this week announced a collaboration to improve clinical trial matching and expand the oncology practice's clinical trial program. Deep Lens' technology platform, called VIPER, can help prescreen all patients in the electronic medical record system at Hematology-Oncology Associates of Central New York, which has four locations in the state. It will integrate pathology and molecular data feeds from Caris Life Sciences, Guardant Health, and Foundation Medicine to automatically identify qualified patients for clinical trials.

Lantern Pharma said this week that it has expanded its collaboration with the National Cancer Institute aimed at identifying patients most likely to respond to Lantern's investigational agents LP-184 and LP-284. Lantern is developing these for genetically defined solid tumors, including pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma, and for rare subtypes of leukemia and lymphoma, respectively. Through the expanded collaboration, Lantern will use data from the NCI Developmental Therapeutics Branch's CellMiner and CellMinerCDB platforms to home in on a curated list of potential predictive biomarkers from a multiomic signature established during the first phase of the collaboration. This phase will also include data from the Broad Institute's Project Achilles to compare Lantern's drug candidates to other agents under certain genetic and molecular conditions. Lantern and the NCI plan to publish findings from their collaboration in a peer-reviewed journal.

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared in Precision Oncology News.