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  • Writer's pictureEscalate Life Sciences

Relay impresses with early study data for targeted cancer drug.

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Updated data released ahead of a medical conference suggest Relay’s medicine could be more effective than others like it in treating a type of bile duct cancer.

Clinical trial results released Wednesday offer the most convincing evidence to date that Relay Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, can develop better drugs by studying how proteins move.

Data from an early study, published online ahead of the European Society for Medical Oncology’s annual conference, suggest an experimental medicine developed by Relay could be more effective than currently available treatments for a type of bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma.

Treatment shrank tumors in 63% of 38 cholangiocarcinoma patients who received Relay’s drug in the study. Among the 17 study participants who received the dose Relay selected for further testing, 88% responded to therapy — a rate more than twice the 23% to 42% previously reported for other drugs in similar groups of patients.

Notably, Relay’s drug did not cause significant rates of high phosphorus levels, a worrisome side effect reported with those other medicines. Treatment was associated with “low-grade” mouth sores and a skin condition associated with some cancer treatments called hand-foot syndrome.

To analysts, the data were validation of Relay’s drug and, more broadly, its approach to developing medicines. Bradley Canino, an analyst at Stifel, wrote in a note to clients that the biotech “delivered on high efficacy expectations,” providing “further data that Relay’s drug discovery machine can produce best-in-class medicines.”

“Credit where credit is due,” wrote Akash Tewari, an analyst at Jefferies who has argued Relay shares are overvalued, in a Wednesday note. “We think the updated efficacy looks solid at the go-forward dose.”

Relay’s results are from a small number of patients and the data made available Wednesday come from a study abstract rather than a full presentation, which is scheduled for Sunday. The abstract did not provide information on whether any patients needed to discontinue treatment or drop to a lower dose due to side effects.

“We’ll also note that there are a [significant amount of patients] that are not yet evaluable for efficacy, so we’ll need to keep an eye out for potential regression over time,” wrote Tewari.

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Published Sept. 8, 2022 Ned PagliaruloLead Editor

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