GlaxoSmithKline and Five Prime ditch lung cancer ambitions as rivals pile in

Partners GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Five Prime Therapeutics ($FPRX) are abandoning their hopes of developing an early-stage drug for lung cancer, pivoting to mesothelioma as the landscape gets more and more competitive. The two are working through Phase I trials with FP-1039, designed to block the spread of cancer by interrupting protein signaling, with hopes of treating squamous non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma. However, after posting what Five Prime called "encouraging" results in lung cancer, the companies have agreed to stop enrolling patients in that study "given the change in treatment paradigms following approvals of immuno-oncology agents and the increasingly competitive landscape," Five Prime said. The approval of so-called checkpoint inhibitors from Merck ($MRK) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) has changed the game in lung cancer, and similar agents from AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Roche ($RHHBY) are looming to further crowd the marketplace. In lieu of lung cancer, GSK and Five Prime are pressing forward in mesothelioma with plans to enroll up to 30 more patients in an expansion cohort of a Phase I trial. If FP-1039 continues to demonstrate promise in that disease, Five Prime will work to reacquire full rights from its partner, the company said. Release