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PLX4032 - 10 Promising Late-Stage Cancer Drugs

April 04, 2011 - Fierce Biotech

Plexxikon is sitting pretty right now, largely due to the stellar performance of its lead experimental drug, code named PLX4032. After the Berkeley, CA-based firm and its partner Roche reported exciting data from trials of the drug in patients with melanoma over the past year, Japan's Daiichi Sankyo swooped in and bought Plexxikon in a $935 million deal revealed in February. What's more, Plexxikon CEO Peter Hirth told FierceBiotech that the company's Japanese owner plans to give the small drug developer a degree of autonomy and funding to continue its impressive work.

Plexxikon reported in January that melanoma patients on the drug in a Phase III trial were showing better overall survival and on average were living longer without their cancer progressing than those who were on the standard therapy for melanoma, dacarbazine. The drug is targeted for patients with a BFAF mutation. Roche is developing a DNA-based test to identify patients with the BRAF mutation, which causes unchecked cell growth and cancer. In general, BRAF mutations show up in most melanomas.

Plexxikon, a 2010 Fierce 15 company, published Phase I data in an August 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The article said that 81 percent of melanoma patients on the drug had their tumors shrink by at least 30 percent.