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Innate Pharma Gets $50 Million From AstraZeneca as Monalizumab Phase 3 Lung Cancer Trial Begins

The AstraZeneca deal continues to be a good one for Innate Pharma, year after year.

Image source: Innate Pharma

Innate Pharma ( IPHA ; Euronext: IPH) announced that AstraZeneca ( AZN ) has dosed the first patient in its Phase 3 clinical trial, evaluating durvalumab in combination with monalizumab or AstraZeneca’s oleclumab in patients with unresectable, Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have not progressed following definitive platinum-based concurrent chemoradiation therapy.

It's an important milestone for Innate Pharma and the latest payment in a productive collaboration with AstraZeneca that has generated $450 million since the deal began in 2015.

Phase 3 clinical trial

The purpose of the Phase 3 "PACIFIC-9" trial is is to determine if the addition of monalizumab or oleclumab to durvalumab improves outcomes for patients.

Monalizumab, Innate’s lead partnered asset, is an immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting NKG2A receptors expressed on tumor-infiltrating cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. 

AstraZeneca's durvalumab (Imfinzi) is the global standard of care for unresectable, Stage III NSCLC in patients whose disease has not progressed after chemoradiation therapy. Durvalumab is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to the PD-L1 protein and blocks the interaction of PD-L1 with the PD-1 and CD80 proteins, countering the tumor’s immune-evading tactics and releasing the inhibition of immune responses.

Oleclumab is an AstraZeneca investigational monoclonal antibody that selectively binds to and inhibits the activity of CD73, which is overexpressed in tumors.

AstraZeneca is looking to recruit patients across more than 200 centers in the coming months. 


Strong Phase 2 results

The results of the interim analysis of Phase 2 data showed monalizumab in combination with durvalumab increased objective response rate (ORR) and prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) versus durvalumab alone.

The detailed results initially presented the results during the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021 in September 2021 (see chart below for the stock action around this data analysis) and were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last week.



Investment thesis

  • Innate Pharma investors haven't had much reason to cheer since the excitement of last September when the positive Phase 2 data was released by AstraZeneca, but this latest trigger of a $50 million milestone payment should give the stock a boost.
  • The stock is already trading 9% higher in Friday pre-market trading. Even with this bump, the market cap is a mere $234 million, which makes Innate Pharma shares an inexpensive call option on a broad and deep pipeline of cancer therapeutics.
  • The deal with AstraZeneca has already resulted in milestone payments of $450 million to Innate Pharma
  • Shows that the clinical team is making steady progress.
  • Innate Pharma can still earn up to $825 million in additional clinical and commercial milestones in addition to royalties.
  • The market for stage III NSCLC is sadly enormous, with an estimated 2.2 million people diagnosed with lung cancer worldwide, and 80-85% of these patients classified as NSCLC.
  • Stage III NSCLC represents approximately one quarter of NSCLC incidence, and the majority of these patients are diagnosed with unresectable tumors.



Source: Equities News


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