Incyte's Jakafi Unlikely to Benefit Pancreatic Cancer Patients

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Incyte (INCY) has been a source of investor contention since the company first announced Jakafi was effective in increasing overall survival in pancreatic cancer patients. The controversy centered on Incyte's analysis, which found a survival benefit favoring Jakafi only in a subset of pancreatic cancer patients with elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for inflammation.

At this year's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, Incyte addressed the Jakafi controversy. The company asserted the drug's mechanism of action -- the inhibition of the JAK 1/2 pathway -- is known to reduce inflammatory cytokines, which in turn, leads to a more robust anti-cancer response in patients. In addition, the presence of systemic inflammation in patients with advanced cancer is a negative prognostic factor, so if one could reduce that inflammation, survival would increase, the company said. 

To further explicate the biomarker analysis, the Jakafi ASCO presentation described a well-established clinical measure of inflammation called the modified Glasgow Prognostic Score (mGPS) which look at levels of CRP and albumin. For mGPS, patients with CRP below 10 mg/L have the best prognosis and are scored 0. Patients with CRP greater than 10 mg/L and albumin greater than 35 g/L are slightly worse and scored 1; those with CRP greater than 10 mg/L and albumin less than 35 g/L have the worst prognosis and are scored 2. This measure has been used in over 50 clinical studies that have independently validated its utility as a prognostic indicator across a range of tumor types.

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