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Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ARIA - Snapshot Report) recently presented pre-clinical data on Iclusig (ponatinib) at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The study revealed that Iclusig has the potential to inhibit activated and mutated forms of KIT. We note that KIT is an oncogenic driver present in approximately 80% gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) patients.

Further, Iclusig showed potential against activated forms of KIT and also against a range of secondary mutations resistant to Novartis AG’s (NVS - Analyst Report) Glivec (imatinib) and/or Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE - Analyst Report) Sutent (sunitinib malate).

Ariad intends to initiate a phase II study of Iclusig in GIST patients in the second quarter of 2013.

We remind investors that Ariad is also conducting additional studies for Iclusig. Results from the phase III EPIC study (Evaluation of Ponatinib versus Imatinib in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia) are due in mid-2014.

Recently, Ariad presented pre-clinical data showing that Iclusig has the potential to inhibit RET (oncogenic driver of medullary thyroid cancer or MTC and non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC) and FGFR (commonly mutated in endometrial, lung and other cancers).

We note that Iclusig is already approved in the US for the treatment of chronic, accelerated or blast phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) or Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL) in patients resistant or intolerant to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy.

Currently, Ariad carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Comparatively, other companies like UCB SA (UCBJF) look more attractive carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Meanwhile Novartis carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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