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What to do with $101M

Last week's $101M tranched series B round for oncology play Tesaro Inc. is expected to get the company to NDA submission for its lead candidate, in-license up to two additional compounds and advance a preclinical program into the clinic, David Mott of New Enterprise Associates told Ebb & Flow.

The offering is the largest biotech series B round since the $169.4 million for cancer company OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. at the end of 2008.

Tesaro was founded in March 2010 by executives from specialty oncology and acute care company MGI Pharma Inc., which Eisai Co. Ltd. (Tokyo:4523; Osaka:4523) acquired for $3.9 billion in 2008.

Tesaro's rolapitant is expected to start Phase III testing to prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in 4Q11. The company has exclusive, worldwide rights to the neurokinin 1 (NK1) substance P receptor (TACR1) antagonist from Opko Health Inc. (NYSE-A:OPK).

The only other marketed TACR1 antagonist is Emend aprepitant, for which Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) recorded sales of $378 million in 2010.

According to clinical guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), standard of care for preventing CINV from moderate and high-risk chemotherapies includes some combination of a serotonin (5-HT3) receptor antagonist, a corticosteroid and Emend.

If the NCCN guidelines were followed, about 70% of all cancer patients would receive Emend, according to Tesaro. But only about 20% receive the drug due to potential drug-drug interactions, including for some chemotherapies (see BioCentury, March 7, 2011).

The expectation is that rolapitant will have fewer safety limitations.

Mott said the company also will use the financing to round out its pipeline, possibly bringing in another cancer therapeutic and a supportive care product. One would be in the clinic and the other could be late preclinical.

Last March, Tesaro in-licensed small molecule inhibitors of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) from Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN). The company plans to use

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