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Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR - Analyst Report) recently completed enrolling patients for the phase III BEACON study (n=840) on its metastatic breast cancer candidate etirinotecan pegol (NKTR-102). Nektar Therapeutics is evaluating the candidate in comparison to a single-agent therapy of physician's choice in patients suffering from locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer.

The primary objective of the BEACON study is overall survival. The study will also evaluate progression-free survival and objective tumor response rates of etirinotecan pegol. Nektar Therapeutics plans to conduct an interim futility analysis on the phase III study at the beginning of 2014 and expects top-line survival data by the end of that year. Etirinotecan pegol had performed encouragingly in the phase II study for the indication.

Apart from etirinotecan pegol, Nektar Therapeutics also has NKTR-214 in its oncology pipeline. Nektar Therapeutics is developing NKTR-214 (targets the IL-2 receptor complex) as a potential treatment for multiple forms of cancer. Results from a preclinical study on the candidate that were presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), revealed that NKTR-214 was more effective and exhibited greater tolerability compared to Novartis (NVS - Snapshot Report)/Prometheus Laboratories’ Proleukin. The company mentioned in its press release that NKTR-214 was more effective than Proleukin in spite of being dosed with 20-fold less of total cytokine or being dosed only once every fourteen days.

Nektar Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other biopharma stocks such as Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals Public Limited Company (JAZZ - Analyst Report) currently look better positioned. While, Actelion carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Jazz Pharma carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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