BridgeBio’s QED Therapeutics picks up discarded Novartis cancer drug

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BioBridge launched QED Therapeutics with $65 million in seed money, which includes a "substantial upfront payment" to Novartis for infigratinib. (Gerd Altmann)

BridgeBio has licensed an FGFR inhibitor from Novartis and will continue to develop it for bile duct cancers and—surprise—dwarfism.

QED Therapeutics, spun out with $65 million in seed funding, will develop infigratinib (BGJ398), which is already in a phase 2 trial for patients with chemotherapy-refractory bile duct cancer including FGFR2 fusions. BridgeBio did not specify the terms of the deal, but said that the $65 million included a “substantial upfront payment” to Novartis.

“We are committed to moving this compound forward in late-stage development and further proving the strong efficacy in cancer that has already been demonstrated across multiple trials,” said Daniel Hoth, M.D., QED’s chief medical officer, in a statement.

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But while mutations in the FGFR3 gene have been linked to bladder cancer, multiple myeloma and cervical cancer, they also play a role in multiple pediatric skeletal dysplasias, such as achondroplasia, a form of short-limbed dwarfism. Infigratinib has shown promise in mouse models of achondroplasia; low doses of the drug “corrected pathological hallmarks” of the disorder.

“We have a late-stage, targeted oncology compound that has demonstrated clear efficacy in the clinic. With the same molecule, we have a potential best-in-class therapy to treat achondroplasia at its source,” said BridgeBio CEO Neil Kumar. Down the line, Novartis will pick up additional milestone payments, as well as royalties.