The battle for IRAK

Nimbus, Aurigene and TG Therapeutics are chasing IRAK4 inhibitors for cancer

More than four years after Nimbus Therapeutics LLC's partners at the National Cancer Institute discovered the therapeutic potential of IRAK4 inhibitors in B cell lymphoma, the company is still in preclinical development, but new competitors are closing in. At least three other biotechs have disclosed interest in the target for cancer, and two of them might beat Nimbus to the clinic.

This week, Aurigene Discovery Technologies Ltd. and TG Therapeutics Inc. presented preclinical data at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting showing efficacy of their respective IRAK4 inhibitors in cancer cells.

TG entered the space last June when it acquired its IRAK4 inhibitors from Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc.

A third company, Curis Inc., joined the pack in January when it obtained an exclusive option to license Aurigene's IRAK4 candidates - in addition to other compounds - in exchange for shares. Aurigene will continue its responsibility for preclinical development, while Curis will take over clinical development, regulatory development and the majority of the worldwide commercialization.

In addition, at least two pharmas, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer Inc., have disclosed IRAK4 programs. BMS has an IRAK4 inhibitor in Phase I testing for autoimmune and transplant indications. Pfizer has an inhibitor in Phase I

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