BeiGene, MEI pair BTK, PI3K for blood cancers

Chinese biotech BeiGene Ltd (Nasdaq: BGNE; HKEX: 06160) and San Diego-based MEI Pharma Inc., are pairing up respective pipeline molecules to try out a new combination therapy for B-cell malignancies. BeiGene brings the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor zanubrutinib for a match up with MEI’s ME-401, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (Pl3K) delta inhibitor.

Under the deal terms, an ongoing Phase Ib trial for ME-401 will be expanded to include evaluation of the combination with zanubrutinib in patients with B-cell malignancies. Development costs will be shared equally between the two firms, with both companies retaining all commercial rights to their respective products.

Both product candidates are potentially differentiated from other drugs in their respective classes. Zanubrutinib is BeiGene’s leading pipeline candidate, viewed as a potential best-in-class BTK inhibitor, and currently in a global Phase III study for Waldenström's macroglobulinemia. Meanwhile, ME-401 has unique pharmaceutical properties and is highly selective for PI3K delta, and is set to start a Phase II study seeking accelerated approval in the U.S. as a third-line treatment for follicular lymphoma.

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