Exelixis Strategy: Expanding the Pipeline with Novel Products

As part of its ongoing strategy to build an innovative pipeline beyond its two internally-discovered, commercially available compounds, cabozantinib and cobimetinib, Exelixis (EXEL) entered into an exclusive collaboration and license agreement with StemSynergy Therapeutics. The aim of the collaboration is discovering and developing novel cancer products. targeting Casein Kinase 1 alpha (CK1α), a component of the Wnt signaling pathway implicated in key cancer processes.

Exelixis and StemSynergy intend to conduct preclinical and clinical studies with compounds from StemSynergy’s CK1α Activator Program.

Exelixis will pay StemSynergy an upfront payment of $3M and up to $3.5M in initial research and development funding.

StemSynergy will be eligible for milestone payment upon the emergence of the first selected product.

StemSynergy will receive preclinical and clinical development and regulatory milestone payments, commercial milestones, as well as single-digit royalties on worldwide sales.

Exelixis will be solely responsible for the commercialization of products that arise from the collaboration.

Peter Lamb, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Discovery Research and Chief Scientific Officer of Exelixis said, “CK1α activation is an underexplored and intriguing mechanism for addressing the Wnt/β-catenin axis, a major pathway deregulated in multiple cancers.

The Wnt signaling pathway is known to play an important role in embryonic development but can support cancer processes when deregulated in adult tissues. Activation of β-catenin, a key downstream component of the pathway, is increased in multiple tumors, including a majority of colorectal cancers, where mutations in the APC gene that result in beta-catenin stabilization are prevalent.

CK1α Activator Program compounds have been shown to induce degradation of β-catenin and pygopus, another member of the pathway in preclinical colorectal cancer CRC models, inhibiting tumors’ growth. Importantly, their GI-sparing qualities may help overcome limitations encountered by other approaches targeting the Wnt pathway.

StemSynergy Therapeutics is focused on the discovery and development of novel small-molecule drugs that target developmental pathways fundamental to cancer. The firm describes its mission as optimizing the efficacy against developmental pathways that drive cancer cells, such as the Wnt, Sonic Hedgehog and Notch signaling pathways.

Prohost Observations

The collaboration agreement with StemSynergy Therapeutics has clearly demonstrated Exelixis strategy of spending part of its revenues generated from its approved drugs’ sales towards exploring new pathways of cancers. It is obvious that Exelixis is hunting for breakthrough molecules to expand its pipeline.

Quality over quantity is the name of the Exelixis strategy.

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