Astellas cuts Potenza anti-TIGIT asset in quarterly cull


In 2018, Astellas spent $405 million to buy out long-term biotech partner Potenza Therapeutics and its small group of early-stage cancer drugs.

These included phase 1 drug ASP8374/PTZ-201, an anti-TIGIT antibody immune checkpoint inhibitor; ASP1948/PTZ-329, an anti-NRP1 antibody inhibiting T-regulatory cells; and  ASP1951/PTZ-522, a format GITR agonistic antibody for T-cell priming and costimulation.

Now that list is down by one, as Astellas announced in its financial update today that it was culling PTZ-201, saying simply that it: “Discontinued Phase 1 program for cancer.”

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This comes as a glut of anti-TIGIT drugs from the likes of Arcus, Roche and Merck have seen success in wedding these drugs to checkpoint inhibitors. The Japanese pharma gave no explanation as to why it was culled. It had been in a combo test with Merck's Keytruda.

RELATED: Astellas winds down Agensys, turning its back on antibody-drug conjugate research

There were three other cut programs, including ASP1650, an antibody targeting claudin 6, which has been axed in testicular cancer after phase 2 study missed its primary endpoint. According to, it still appears to be recruiting for a separate trial in male patients with incurable platinum refractory germ cell tumors.

There is also another midstage asset, ASP8302, a muscarine M3 receptor positive allosteric modulator, which had been in the works for underactive bladder after it too failed to hit its trial goal. Further back in phase 1 was ASP1235/AGS62P1, culled from its work in acute myeloid leukemia, coming from its now wound-down research pact with Agensys.

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