Sunday, June 30, 2019

Clinical Data Making A Stronger Case For Nektar Therapeutics

I’ve been what I’d call “cautiously bullish” on Nektar (NKTR) and its lead drug bempegaldesleukin (formerly known as NKTR-214, I’m going with “bempeg” for short); while the idea of a safer form of IL-2 to accompany PD-1 antibodies and other established cancer therapies is appealing, the initial data were mixed and the shares are down almost 50% from when I last wrote about the company.

I don’t think is exclusively a Nektar issue, as the infamous blow-up of Incyte’s (INCY) melanoma drug epacadostat made investors more skeptical about melanoma treatments, not to mention a shift in attention to other categories of cancer drugs. On top of that, it looks like competition is ramping up in the modified IL space, with multiple companies looking to advance drugs into the clinic.

All told, I see Nektar as a more focused company than just a few years ago, with bempeg as the lead drug, but some other promising compounds like NKTR-262 and NKTR-255 in cancer and NKTR-358 in autoimmune disease. NKTR-181 (a pegylated opioid) is much more of a wildcard now, but all told I think Nektar shares trade too low today.

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Clinical Data Making A Stronger Case For Nektar Therapeutics

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