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Nektar (NKTR) Begins Dosing in NKTR-255 Study for Two Cancers

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Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR - Free Report) announced that it has dosed the first patient in the phase I/II study evaluating its investigational IL-15 pathway agonist, NKTR-255 in combination with Eli Lilly’s (LLY - Free Report) Erbitux (cetuximab) for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (“HNSCC”) or colorectal cancer (“CRC”).

The early-stage study is being conducted at the START Center for Cancer Care in San Antonio, Texas and will investigate the NKTR-255 combo in up to 80 patients at across various sites in the United States and European Union.

Shares of Nektar were up 4.5% following the announcement of the news on Tuesday. However, the stock has plunged 14.7% so far this year against the industry’s increase of 1%.

price chart for NKTR


The above-mentioned phase I/II study will evaluate the combination of NKTR-255 plus Erbitux in two groups of patients. The first have patient R/R HNSCC whose disease have progressed following treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy and a checkpoint inhibitor. The other will consist of patients with metastatic CRC who have received two prior treatments for the metastatic disease.

The study will begin with a dose-finding portion for the combination of NKTR-255 plus Erbitux and will eventually expand into respective cohorts for HNSCC and CRC patients.

Notably, Erbitux is already approved for the treatment of advanced HNSCC and CRC.

In November 2020, Nektar presented the first clinical data on NKTR-255, which showed that treatment with NKTR-255 led to consistent expansion of lymphocytes in patients with highly refractory multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The candidate was well tolerated and biologically active in the given patient population.

Nektar received investigational new drug clearance for initiating a phase I/II study to evaluate NKTR-255 in patients with solid tumors in October.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Nektar currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector include BioLineRx Ltd. (BLRX - Free Report) and Sierra Oncology, Inc. (SRRA - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

BioLineRx’s loss per share estimate has narrowed 28.7% for 2020 and 18.1% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 60.9% year to date.

Sierra Oncology’s loss per share estimate has narrowed 8.1% for 2020 and 4.4% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has increased 9.8% year to date

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