One class of proteins was at the heart of nearly $100 billion worth of oncology M&A over the past decade, according to a new report.
They're called kinases, and their job is to tack phosphate groups onto various molecules. Like a switch, the reaction can make the receiving molecule more or less active. Kinases therefore play an important role in cell signaling, yet research has shown they can also facilitate cancer growth.
With this in mind, some of the world's largest drug companies have deployed billions of dollars for access to kinase-blocking therapies. In a report published Thursday, investment bank SVB Leerink estimated that 20 of the more than 70 oncology-focused M&A deals that took place since 2010 centered around kinase inhibitor assets. Such deals accounted for upwards of $97 billion, or approximately 37% of the total oncology M&A deal value.
A number of those acquisitions are already driving sales growth.
M&A transactions driven by oncology-focused kinase inhibitors
|Date||Acquirer||Target||Deal value||Lead assets||Kinase|
|March 2010||Astellas||OSI Pharma||~$4 billion||Tarceva||EGFR|
|June 2010||Sanofi||TargaGen||Up to ~$560 million||Inrebic||JAK2|
|Feb. 2011||Gilead||Calistoga Pharma||Up to ~$600 million||Zydelig||PI3K|
|Feb. 2011||Daiichi||Plexxikon||Up to ~$935 million||Zelboraf||BRAF|
|Dec. 2011||Takeda||Intellikine||Up to ~$310 million||INK128, INK1117||mTOR, PI3K|
|Jan. 2012||Celgene||Avila Therapeutics||Up to ~925 million||CC-292||BTK|
|Dec. 2012||Gilead||YM Biosciences||~$510 million||Momelotinib||JAK1/2|
|Aug. 2013||Amgen||Onyx Pharma||~$10.4 billion||Nexavar, Stivarga, Kyprolis||VEGFR, FLT3/RAF, PI (non-kinase)|
|Nov. 2013||Clovis||EOS||Up to ~$420 million||Lucitanib||VEGFR / PDGFR / FGFR|
|April 2014||Novartis||GSK Oncology||Up to ~$16 billion||Tafinlar, Mekinist, Votrient, Tykerb||BRAF, MEK. VEGFR, HER2|
|Sept. 2014||Daiichi||Ambit Biosciences||Up to ~$410 million||Quizartinib||FLT3|
|March 2015||AbbVie||Pharmacyclics||~$21 billion||Imbruvica||BTK|
|Dec. 2015||AstraZeneca||Acerta Pharma||Up to ~$7 billion||Calquence||BTK|
|Jan. 2017||Takeda||Ariad||~$5.2 billion||Iclusig, Alunbrig||BCR-ABL, ALK|
|Dec. 2017||Roche||Ignyta||~$1.7 billion||Rozlytrek||ROS1 & NTRK|
|Jan. 2018||Celgene||Impact Biosciences||Up to ~$7 billion||Fedratinib||JAK2|
|Jan. 2018||SeaGen||Cascadian||~$614 million||Tucatinib||HER2|
|May 2018||Lilly||AurKa Pharma||Up to ~$575 million||AK-01||Aurora kinase A|
|Jan. 2019||Lilly||Loxo Oncology||~$8 billion||Vitrakvi, LOXO-292, LOXO-305||NTRK, RET, BTK|
|June 2019||Pfizer||Array BioPharma||~$11.4 billion||Braftovi, Mektovi||BRAF, MEK|
SOURCE: SVB Leerink, citing company reports, Evaluate Pharma and BioMedTracker. Chart shows original deals, some of which have been superseded by later transactions.
Imbruvica, or ibrutinib, is a Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor approved to treat multiple blood cancers. Last year, AbbVie recorded over $3.5 billion in revenue from the drug, to which Johnson & Johnson also holds rights.
SVB Leerink found that, more than any other kinase drug, BTK inhibitors accounted for the most M&A over the last 10 years. Four deals added up to about $37 billion and have resulted in two marketed products thus far.
"With Imbruvica currently the best-selling kinase inhibitor by global revenue and consensus anticipating $8.6bn in sales for the entire class by 2024, it is unsurprising to see the greatest deal volume and value accounted for by the BTK inhibitor class," analysts wrote.
The global kinase inhibitor market sits at roughly $33 billion and, according to consensus estimates cited by Leerink, is poised to grow about 13% annually to surpass $50 billion by 2022.
This week alone, the Food and Drug Administration approved two more kinase inhibitors in Roche's entrectinib and Celgene's fedratinib.
The agency on Thursday cleared entrectinib, branded as Rozlytrek, for patients older than 12 with solid tumors that test positive for NTRK fusions, as well as certain lung cancer patients. Roche set the wholesale acquisition cost on Rozlytrek a little above $17,000 per month for adults.
Then, on Friday, regulators gave a thumbs up to fedratinib, or Inrebic, for patients with specific types of myelofibrosis.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated on second reference the value of deals involving kinase inhibitors. The total amount is $97 billion, not million.