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Incyte (INCY) Partners With Cellenkos for Myelofibrosis Treatment

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Incyte (INCY - Free Report) announced a global development collaboration agreement with privately-held clinical-stage biotech company, Cellenkos, Inc.

The companies have collaborated to investigate the combination of Incyte’s lead drug Jakafi (ruxolitinib) and CK0804, Cellenkos’ cryopreserved CXCR4 enriched, allogeneic, umbilical cord blood-derived T-regulatory cells, in patients with myelofibrosis (MF), which is a rare, chronic blood cancer.

Additionally, Incyte gains an exclusive option to acquire sole rights to develop and commercialize CK0804 and genetically-modified variants of CK0804 in benign and malignant hematology indications.

Per the agreement, both companies intend to initiate a phase Ib single-arm, open-label study evaluating Jakafi in combination with CK0804 in patients with MF. The study will be funded by Incyte and operationalized by Cellenkos.

Incyte also has an option to acquire an exclusive global license to develop and commercialize the program. The company would be responsible for all activities and costs associated with research, development and commercialization of the program, once it exercises the global licensing option.
Meanwhile, Cellenkos would be eligible to receive a $20-million licensing fee along with development, regulatory and sales milestones totaling up to $294.5 million for each distinct product under the agreement. It is also entitled to tiered royalties ranging from mid-single digit to low-double digits on approval.

We note that Jakafi, a first-in-class JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor, is already approved by the FDA for the treatment of polycythemia vera (PV) in adults who have had an inadequate response to or are intolerant of hydroxyurea, adults with intermediate or high-risk MF including primary MF, post-polycythemia vera MF and post-essential thrombocythemia MF. It is also approved for the treatment of steroid-refractory acute GVHD in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older.

The drug is marketed by Incyte in the United States and by Novartis (NVS - Free Report) , as Jakavi, outside the country.

Shares of the company have lost 0.5% in the year against the industry’s 8% growth.

The company’s efforts to diversify its revenue base are encouraging as well and the label expansion of Jakafi in additional indications will further boost sales. Moreover, the recent approval of Pemazyre, Monjuvi in collaboration with MorphoSys (MOR - Free Report) and Tabrecta (with Novartis) will bring additional sales and diversify its revenue base. 

Incyte currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked stock in the healthcare sector is Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (HALO - Free Report) , which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Halozyme’s earnings estimates have grown 22 cents for 2020 and 28 cents for 2021 in the past 60 days.

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