As reported earlier in Xconomy and Fierce Biotech, BMS may have hit the jackpot early with its acquisition of Zymogenetics. Today, Zymogenetics is reporting startling results from a phase II (not III) trial of its IL-21 molecule for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Patients with this extremely intractable disease responded to IL-21 in this study by exhibiting a mean survival rate of 12.4 months - with over 50% of trial subjects living more than 1 year. This result is eye-popping.
Earlier this year, BMS grabbed attention in the medical community at ASCO with its own drug for the treatment of metastatic melanoma when it established a mean survival time of 10 months - compared to 6.4 in the control group. The Zymogenetics result with IL-21 was characterized as "very encouraging" by Zymo's chief medical officer.
Now BMS may have it rich with IL-21 too in addition to the hepatitis C treatment that it primarily counted on in acquiring Zymo. Of course, with cancer therapies, phase III results are usual more telling - but so far so good with IL-21.
Posted by Bruce Lehr September 29th 2010.