Verastem (VSTM) Stock Climbs On Amgen (AMGN) Collaboration

Verastem Inc (NASDAQ: VSTM) is screaming for the top in the market this morning, and for good reason. The company said that it has entered into a clinical collaboration with Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) surrounding the development of a combination therapy for lung cancer. Here’s what’s going on:

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VSTM Enters Collaboration With AMGN

In the press release, Verastem Oncology said that it entered into a clinical collaboration agreement with Amgen. The agreement surrounds the evaluation of the combination of VS-6766, an investigational dual RAF/MEK inhibitor developed by VSTM, and LUMAKRASTM, a KRAS G12C inhibitor developed by Amgen. 

The combination is aimed at fighting KRAS G12C-mutant non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC. 

The company went on to explain that the Phase 1/2 clinical trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of VS-6766 in combination with LUMAKRASTM in patients with KRAS G12C-mutant NSCLC who have not been previously treated with a KRAS G12C inhibitor. The treatment will also be tested in patients who have progressed on a KRAS G12C inhibitor. 

VSTM went on to explain that the study will investigate the potential benefits of a more complete vertical blockade of the RAS pathway with the combination of VS-6766 with LUMAKRASTM in KRAS-mutant locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC. 

Finally, the company said that it expects to initiate the trial by the end of the 2021 calendar year. 

Management Commentary

In a statement, Ramaswamy Govindan, M.D., Professor of the Department of Medicine, Oncology Division at Washington University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study, had the following to offer:

Recent data indicate that acquired resistance to KRAS G12C inhibitors in patients occurs predominantly through additional mutations in the RAS pathway, many of which may be addressed with a downstream inhibitor such as VS-6766. 

This clinical study of VS-6766 and LUMAKRASTM will build on preclinical data showing synergy between these two agents, including tumor regression through deeper blockade of ERK pathway signaling.

The above statement was followed up by Brian Stuglik, CEO at VSTM. Here’s what he had to say:

We are pleased to partner with Amgen on this important research that could potentially expand treatment options for patients with KRAS G12C-mutant NSCLC. This collaboration advances our strategy to fully explore the potential of VS-6766 as a backbone of therapy to treat RAS pathway-driven cancers.

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Final Thoughts

All in all, the news proved to be overwhelmingly positive. After all, Amgen is a massive company that knows its way around cancer therapeutics. It wouldn’t have moved forward with this collaboration if it didn’t see something promising in Verastem’s therapy. All in all, there’s good reason to be excited about VSTM stock at the moment. 

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