How a KRAS program transformed Mirati's story

A look into the factors driving Mirati's stock moves as the market anticipates its first KRAS inhibitor data

With the first clinical data due on Mirati’s KRAS inhibitor next week, the market will get its first chance to justify -- or otherwise -- the large chunk of the company’s $3 billion valuation tied to the asset.

All eyes will be on how the Phase I/II KRAS G12C inhibitor MRTX849 from Mirati Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:MRTX) measures up against AMG 510, an inhibitor from Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) against the same target. Amgen’s compound is just a few months ahead and has an impressive early data set.

On Oct. 28, Mirati will present preclinical data and initial Phase I/II data on MRTX849 at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference in Boston. Mirati’s is the second molecule against KRAS G12C to read out in the clinic.

The KRAS inhibitors have lit up industry and investor interest because their notoriously intractable target is the most commonly mutated oncogenic driver in solid tumors.

At the Jefferies Healthcare Conference in June, Mirati CEO Charles Baum estimated that 20,000 patients per year in the U.S. alone have KRAS G12C mutations, translating to a potential $6 billion market.

Mirati's stock has been highly sensitive to the ups and downs of Amgen's competing product.

Through last year, Mirati's stock growth was largely driven by financings and data on its lead program sitravatinib, a multi-kinase inhibitor now in Phase III testing with PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo nivolumab for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Opdivo is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY).

This year, most of Mirati's growth has been wrapped up in the KRAS race, even without any clinical data to show.

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