Incyte ($INCY) shares shot up 27% Wednesday morning as its blood cancer drug Jakafi turned in positive survival data for pancreatic cancer patients.
Investigators in the study say that 42% of a subgroup of treatment-resistant metastatic patients taking Jakafi (ruxolitinib) with the chemo drug capecitabine experienced 6-month overall survival compared to capecitabine alone. The company's release is lean on details about the subgroup, a red flag for many analysts, though the company says these patients can be identified with a diagnostic test. But the unanswered questions did little to blunt investors' enthusiasm for the top-line news.
The combo arm also did relatively well on the safety front, with 12% dropping out due to adverse events compared to 20% of the chemo-only arm. But the Wilmington, DE-based company reports that rates of new onset grade 3 anemia were 16% in the combo arm and 2% among patients receiving capecitabine alone.
Ruxolitinib is an oral JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor approved for use against the blood cancer myelofibrosis, characterized by bone marrow failure and an enlarged spleen. The company only pulled back a corner of the sheet covering the trial data, though, saying that it plans to divulge all the data at a later scientific meeting. In the meantime, company execs say they're pushing ahead on a Phase III study for 2014.
"Results of the RECAP trial provide the first evidence that JAK inhibition is active in this disease and suggest a demonstrable survival benefit in a well-defined group of patients with refractory metastatic pancreatic cancer who can be identified without the development of a companion diagnostic test," said Incyte CEO Paul Friedman in a statement. "Coupled with the overall survival benefit observed in the ongoing Phase III trials in myelofibrosis, these results solidify our belief in the therapeutic opportunity that exists for Jakafi, and provide us with an acceleration strategy to advance our JAK1 inhibitor portfolio into additional areas of unmet medical need."
- here's the press release