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GSK spotlights PhIII heart, cancer blockbuster hopefuls in late-stage R&D review

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GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) rolled out its late-stage drug prospects today, putting its best foot forward with a pair of drugs aimed at cancer and heart disease. Altogether the pharma giant says it expects to post pivotal data on 14 therapeutics in the next two years. And darapladib, its heart drug bought in from Human Genome Sciences, along with the cancer therapeutic vaccine MAGE-A3, represent two of its top blockbuster opportunities, reports Reuters.

More than three years ago GSK announced with great fanfare that it was restructuring its pipeline effort, divvying up R&D teams into more biotech-like business units. And its 14 late-stage programs don't all fit the traditional blockbuster approach, with more new drugs that are aimed at smaller commercial opportunities.

Darapladib and MAGE-A3, though, have some big upside potential if they hold up in Phase III programs. As we reported last fall, GSK has been testing MAGE-A3 in trials for metastatic melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. It enlists a mixture of proteins to target cancer cells that express the MAGE-A3 antigen, adding a mix of chemicals that create an adjuvant--or boosting--effect that should increase the potency of the therapeutic vaccine. 

GSK had already in-licensed darapladib when it acquired HGS for a mere $3 billion. If this drug pays off, it will make its price for the biotech look like even more of a bargain.

The brief Reuters preview of GSK's pipeline presentation today included Andrew Witty's remarks that the company isn't expecting any fluctuations in R&D costs--now holding steady at around $6.3 billion, third on our latest list of top 15 pharma companies. Not unexpectedly, though, Witty said the company would look for any efficiencies it could.

- here's the Reuters story

Special Reports: Darapladib - Blockbuster buzz: 15 top therapies in late-stage development | MAGE-A3 - 10 promising therapeutic vaccines

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