USA – Blueprint Medicines, a US-based biotech that specializes in targeted cancer drugs, is set to pay US$250 million in cash and another US$215 million in potential milestone payments to acquire privately held Lengo Therapeutics.
Blueprint will receive an experimental lung cancer treatment that is aimed at the same target as recently approved drugs from Johnson & Johnson and Takeda Pharmaceutical.
In December, the company intends to apply to the Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical trials.
Lengo’s drug has yet to be tested in humans, but it is intended to improve on current treatments by preventing tumors from spreading to the brain.
Blueprint claims the candidate is “highly brain-penetrant” in preclinical trials and has the potential to inhibit all common EGFR exon 20 insertion variants.
Lengo’s drug targets a gene mutation that causes the production of a protein called EGFR, which can aid in tumor growth.
The mutation, found in the exon 20 region of the gene, is found in about 2% of non-small cell lung tumors, which equates to about 2,000 to 3,000 cases in the United States each year.
Several drugs, including AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Gilotrif, target EGFR broadly. However, significant progress toward a more precise approach was made in 2021, when the FDA approved two drugs aimed at exon 20 mutations: J&J’s Rybrevant and Takeda’s Exkivity.
These drugs, however, are not without flaws. Rybrevant necessitates a complex dosing strategy to avoid injection reactions, while Exkvity is associated with cardiovascular side effects, according to Stifel analyst Bradley Canino.
Additionally, both are marginally effective: Mobihealth News reports that Rybrevant shrank or eliminated tumors in 40% of patients in clinical trials, while Exkivity did the same in 28% of those treated in trials.
LNG-451, according to Blueprint, could outperform both of them because it targets the mutated protein more precisely and can penetrate brain tissue, where lung cancer tumors frequently spread.
However, it is not the only company attempting to improve on J&J and Takeda’s drugs. Both Cullinan Oncology and Dizal Pharma have medicines in Phase 2 trials, and both have demonstrated competitive response rates and cleaner safety profiles in early testing.
Blueprint has already developed two targeted cancer medicines, Ayvakit and Gavreto, and has several other similar drugs in the works.