The potential to profit from revolutionary new treatments makes biotech one of the hottest industries for investors to target. However, 90% of drugs entering clinical trials wind up in laboratory dustbins, not on pharmacy shelves, making this industry fraught with peril. To reduce the risk of getting blindsided by disappointing trial results, investors need to pay particularly close attention when catalysts approach. For example, biotech investors should be watching Blueprint Medicines (NASDAQ:BPMC), Evolus (NASDAQ:EOLS), and Regenxbio (NASDAQ:RGNX) in the coming year because their shares could pop or drop based on trial data or commercial results for new products.
To profit from surging interest in medicines that more precisely target disease based upon genetic makeup, Eli Lilly recently forked over $8 billion to acquire precision cancer-drug company Loxo Oncology. But Loxo isn’t the only company researching next-generation approaches to tackling cancer. Blueprint Medicines is also at the forefront of this revolution.
Blueprint’s precision therapy that’s closest to approval is avapritinib, a treatment targeting KIT and PDGFRA, two protein kinases that can be overly active in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and systemic mastocytosis (SM). A registration-ready trial in advanced GIST is wrapping up soon, and if the data is solid, then a filing for approval in that indication should quickly follow. Additional studies that could allow avapritinib’s use earlier in GIST and in SM are also progressing, with data expected next year.
Avapritinib isn’t Blueprint Medicines’ only iron in the fire, either. It’s also working on BLU-667, an oral drug that seeks to interfere with mutations to a gene called RET that can contribute to non-small-cell lung cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, and other solid-tumor cancers. Depending on trial data, Blueprint Medicines thinks it could file for Food and Drug Administration approval of BLU-667 in 2020.
If everything goes as planned, Blueprint hopes to have two FDA-approved drugs on the market and four regulatory decisions pending by the end of next year. There’s no telling if that game plan will prompt a larger company to swoop in, like Eli Lilly did with Loxo, but I think it’s possible. Blueprint’s CEO was U.S. president of Algeta when Bayer bought it for $2.9 billion in 2013, and its chief medical officer was vice president for oncology research at Millennium Pharmaceuticals when it was bought for $9 billion by Takeda in 2008.
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