New York Area Companies Head to ASCO With High Hopes For Future Cancer Blockbusters

6/1/11Follow @arleneweintraub

[Corrected 6/3/11, 7 a.m. See below.] This weekend, the pharmaceutical industry will descend on Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The show provides an opportunity for drug companies to impress physicians and investors with data on cancer drugs they’re developing, as well as those that are already on the market.

Several companies in and around New York—ranging from famous Big Pharmas to under-the-radar biotechs—are hoping to make a splash at ASCO. Here are some to watch:

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY)
This stalwart NYC company already won over investors in late March when the FDA approved ipilimumab (Yervoy) to treat metastatic melanoma. Bristol’s stock has jumped nine percent since then, and could see more of a bump from ASCO, where the company plans to present no less than 95 scientific abstracts on both existing and experimental drugs. Among the highlights: further data on ipilimumab in melanoma, Phase 1 and 2 results on elotuzumab for multiple myeloma, and results from studies of cetuximab (Erbitux) in solid tumors of the lung, head, neck, and more.

Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG)
Scientists will present data from nine Celgene drugs at ASCO. The Summit, NJ-based company is perhaps best known for lenalidomide (Revlimid), its $2.5-billion-a-year drug to treat multiple myeloma. But the company will also discuss some experimental compounds, including sotatercept (ACE-11), a human fusion protein designed to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia in some lung cancer patients.

Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CYCC)
This biotech, based in Berkeley Heights, NJ, will present pivotal data on its experimental compound, sapacitabine. The drug was tested in combination with Eisai’s decitabine (Dacogen), to treat a deadly blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)
A series of recalls in J&J’s consumer unit drove J&J’s stock below $60 a share earlier this year, but the stock has climbed past $67 in recent weeks thanks to buzz over its new drugs and development pipeline. ASCO is shaping up to be a stage for abiraterone acetate (Zytiga), which the FDA approved April 28 to treat some men with metastatic prostate cancer. The New Brunswick, NJ-based company will discuss data on how the drug affects pain control, as well as a handful of studies on the cost of treating prostate cancer in this country.

Merck (NYSE: MRK)
More than a dozen ASCO presentations will feature compounds from Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck. Some to watch include a first-in-human trial of a poly(ADP)-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor, MK-4827, and a late-stage study of dalotuzumab, an anti-IGF-1R antibody for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE)
The New York drug giant plans to present research from 30 compounds at ASCO, including “multiple new approaches” to targeting cancer, it promises in a release previewing its data. Investors will likely be watching for Phase 3 results on axitinib, an oral and selective inhibitor of certain vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors, which the company is testing against Bayer HealthCare’s sorafenib (Nexavar) in advanced renal cell carcinoma. Pfizer will also present for the first time early overall survival data on crizotinib, a first-in-class compound that inhibits the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) in patients with advanced ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. [Paragraph revised to clarify details of the data being presented.]

Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN)
Tarrytown, NY-based Regeneron will present Phase 1 data on REGN910, a fully human and selective angiopoietin-2 monoclonal antibody that has has reduced the number and function of tumor-associated blood vessels in some preclinical studies.

Progenics Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PGNX)
This company, also based in Tarrytown, is in the early stages of testing PSMA ADC, a human monoclonal antibody-drug conjugate to treat prostate cancer. Progenics plans to present data from a Phase 1 study of the drug, which was tested in 21 patients who failed to respond to a standard treatment regimen.

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