Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) Says Pact With Takeda to Evaluate Combination of NKTR-214, a CD122-biased Agonist, and TAK-659, a Dual SYK and FLT-3 Inhibitor, in Liquid and Solid Tumors
Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR) announced today that it has entered into a new clinical collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited to evaluate Nektar’s investigational medicine, NKTR-214, with Takeda’s investigational medicine, TAK-659, as a potential combination treatment regimen in multiple cancer settings. NKTR-214 is an investigational immuno-stimulatory therapy designed to expand specific cancer-fighting T cells and natural killer (NK) cells directly in the tumor micro-environment and increase expression of PD-1 on these immune cells. TAK-659 is a dual inhibitor of both spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK), a kinase involved in cell proliferation and FLT-3, a cytokine receptor in the receptor tyrosine kinase class III.
Under the terms of the collaboration, Nektar and Takeda will each maintain global commercial rights to their respective investigational medicines. Nektar and Takeda will split the costs related to the clinical trial and each company will contribute their respective compounds to the clinical collaboration. The first trial is expected to start in the second half of 2018 and will evaluate the combination of an every three-week schedule of NKTR-214 with oral daily doses of TAK-659 in patients with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
I am not at all surprised that NKTR has entered into another NKTR-214 collaboration for an I-O combination therapy. I think there will be more collaborations. What did surprise me were the terms of the collaboration. If NKTR-214 can make other compounds more effective (or even effective at all) then I would have expected NKTR to negotiate better terms. It’s fine that each companies should retain all rights to their respective compounds but why did NKTR get Takeda to pay for the trials?
On a separate topic, people have asked how can we put a valuation on NKTR. This is challenging. A few weeks ago NKTR was almost an $18B company; now it’s worth $13.6B. This is a biotech but it’s not a binary biotech like someone suggested. There are a range of possible outcomes involving just NKTR’s I-O assets. There are many trials, several compounds, multiple collaborations, and future trials and collaborations that are still unknown today. In addition, there is the possibility that NKTR-181 could be a blockbuster. There’s a lot of optionality with NKTR.
For me NKTR is the smallest of my 8 positions. I did add some in the low $90s but I’m not adding more. I just like my other companies more and I would need to sell some of my other shares to add to NKTR. That’s not an exchange that I want to make at this time given the remaining uncertainty with NKTR and given what I believe to be greater certainty with my other 7 companies. We will be getting more certainty about some of NKTR’s products in development this year so I will wait and see.