Takeda culls cancer, gut and inflammation drugs in R&D rethink

Takeda has made some cuts to its clinical-phase pipeline, hacking off midphase programs and early-stage prospects as part of a push to focus on its most promising candidates. 

Let’s start in phase 2. TAK-007 was shaken, stirred and downed by Takeda, which made the “data-driven decision to discontinue clinical development” of the CD19 CAR-NK cell therapy in B-cell malignancies. Work on autoimmune diseases will continue, the company said (PDF) in its financial results Thursday. 

TAK-981, also known as subasumstat, has also exited the building. The SUMO inhibitor enjoyed a brief spell as one of Takeda’s top prospects. In fact, Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., president of R&D at Takeda, named the molecule as a candidate to watch when the company culled a clutch of other cancer prospects earlier this year. 

Three months later, TAK-981 is gone, pushed out the door by Takeda as part of a prioritization informed by “the currently available data and clinical development timelines.” Takeda terminated a blood cancer trial in January, citing enrollment challenges, and stopped recruitment in a solid tumor study well short of its target in March. 

Takeda pruned other programs, too. The drugmaker is deprioritizing development of TAK-079, an anti-CD38 antibody also known as mezagitamab, in myasthenia gravis and systemic lupus erythematosus as part of the pipeline prioritization. But the team is still working to start a phase 3 trial of the antibody in primary immune thrombocytopenia in its 2024 financial year. 

Nausea and vomiting candidate TAK-951 is also gone, defenestrated by Takeda after its clinical data fell short of the bar needed to support further development. Takeda jettisoned the new molecules as part of a push that curtailed the pursuit of additional indications for some existing drugs.

In phase 1, Takeda delivered the coup de grâce to TAK-647, an anti-MAdCAM-1 antibody that it picked up in the Shire acquisition. Shire licensed the molecule from Pfizer in 2016 and took it into phase 3 trials in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Takeda was supposed to divest the asset but in the end it failed to find a buyer and the bowel disease program fizzled out during the pandemic. 

Takeda resurrected the antibody as a potential metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis therapy but its second life was short lived. The drugmaker stopped development as part of the prioritization of its portfolio.