Curadev and Bayer agreement shows switch in gears towards STING antagonists: GlobalData

Globally, there are 42 STING agonists and 8 STING antagonists under development.

India-based Curadev’s licensing agreement with Bayer in March 2020 for the discovery and development of novel stimulator of interferon genes (STING) antagonists across indications with high unmet need signifies the importance of the STING mechanism for research by top pharma companies, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
As part of the collaboration, Bayer gains exclusive access to novel STING antagonists program. Together, the companies will develop new drugs for lung disease, cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases. In 2019, Curadev licensed STING agonist program (CRD5500) to Takeda.

Under the agreement, Curadev will receive an upfront payment, in addition to research funding, during the research term and might be eligible for pre-clinical, clinical and sales milestones of potentially over Euro 250 million as well as royalties of single-digit percentages of net sales.

Bhavani Nelavelly, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, says, “Curadev’s STING antagonist platform is currently in the early stage of development and the collaboration with a top pharma company like Bayer reflects growing industry interest in exploring the therapeutic possibilities of STING antagonists. Among all the companies involved in STING race, Curadev is the first Indian player and is discovering candidates for both antagonists and agonists, and deals with major global players like Bayer and Takeda is expected to accelerate the drug development process.”

According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, AbbVie-Mavupharma, BMS, Merck, IFM Therapeutics-Novartis, Nimbus Therapeutics-Celgene (Celgene acquired by BMS), Aduro Biotech-Eli Lilly/Novartis and GSK are the major global players involved in the STING race.

Nelavelly adds, “Major pharma companies are looking to develop STING agonists for cancer immunotherapy and STING antagonists for autoimmune diseases. Despite the hype, the STING agonists appear to be modestly effective so far from the results seen with Merck’s MK-1454 in Phase I trial, which failed to achieve any partial or complete responses in solid tumours patients when used as a monotherapy.”

Nelavelly continues, “Based on Phase I results, Merck has recently posted a Phase II trial evaluating MK-1454 in combination with pembrolizumab vs. monotherapy plus combination therapy evaluated in Phase I trial, which displays the Merck’s strategy to explore the drug in combination. Similarly, Aduro has Phase II asset (ADUS-100), and results from Phase I trials were not so encouraging. Companies are scrambling to provide a rationale for the poor translation of their preclinical models for STING agonists.”

Globally, there are 42 STING agonists and 8 STING antagonists under development. The majority of STING agonists are in the preclinical development stage, with nine assets in the clinical stage, while the STING antagonists have not entered the clinical stage yet.

Nelavelly concludes, “The Curadev and Bayer agreement shows the switch in gears towards STING antagonists now, as they have been the major hope for the past several years. The focus on developing targets for lung and cardiovascular disorders will give the first-mover advantage to both companies, as these areas are still on high unmet clinical need with less industry involvement, provided they prove the value of these programs through effective clinical development strategy.”

BayercuradevData analyticsGlobal DataPharma R&DSTING antagonists
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