Amgen granted Tesaro exclusive, worldwide rights for the development, manufacture, commercialization, and distribution of small molecule inhibitors of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). Tesaro plans to develop one or more compounds for oncology indications including ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
The companies consider ALK a promising molecular target for the development of a cancer therapeutic since it is generally not expressed in normal adult tissue. Abnormal ALK fusion proteins are thought to be a key driver of certain types of cancers including lymphoma, neuroblastoma, and NSCLC. Recent clinical trials of an ALK inhibitor in a subpopulation NSCLC patients demonstrated a link between cancer and abnormal expression of ALK proteins, according to Tesaro and Amgen.
“Molecularly targeted therapies associated with companion diagnostic tests could allow for more rapid and efficient drug development and increase the likelihood of success in defined patient populations,” points out Mary Lynne Hedley, Ph.D., Tesaro's president and CSO. "ALK inhibition shows great promise for a specific and identifiable population of patients."
Founded in March 2010, Tesaro secured $60 million in start-up funding two months later from New Enterprise Associates and the Tesaro management team. The company's pipeline includes rolapitant, a selective neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist that has completed Phase II testing for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Phase III trials of rolapitant is planned to commence this year.