Sunday, I ran a story about Millennium Pharmaceutical’s upcoming research presentations at ASCO. At the end of the article, I commented about the lack of attention being paid to Millennium’s development of an “oral Velcade,” a new drug, MLN9708.
For years, the myeloma community has heard rumors Millennium was close to unveiling such a drug. Now, practically hidden in Millennium’s “curtain raiser” announcement for the upcoming ASCO schedule, I noticed that Phase I MLN9708 results were going to be revealed in a few weeks. Here is what I wrote:
One additional note. Buried near the end of the “curtain raiser” press release from Millennium, I found the following statement:
Additional presentations at ASCO will include the presentation of first clinical data for several investigational molecules from the Company’s robust oncology pipeline. MLN9708 is the first oral proteasome inhibitor to enter clinical trials and is based on the Company’s groundbreaking research in protein homeostasis.
No splash, no bold print (I added that!) This is a huge deal! With Onyx’s new proteasome inhibitor, a direct competitor of Millennium’s Velcade, coming to market soon, MLN9708 should be one of the major stories at ASCO. Both from a patient and business standpoint, an “oral Velcade” could really help change the myeloma chemotherapy landscape.
So I have to wonder: Why not more pomp and circumstance about this study? True, it is only Stage I data. Still… Isn’t it going as planned? Have they hit a snag? I will see what I can find out.
I was able to reach Millennium spokesperson Manisha Pai Monday and ask her about MLN9708. Is there a problem? I know it’s early, but why wasn’t the unvealing of MLN9708 causing a bigger splash? Here is her response:
To answer your speculation, the reason that MLN9708 was toward the end of the press release is because it’s only Phase I data right now, and we can’t put everything into the curtainraiser release, even though I’d like to. Of course, we’re very excited about these MLN9708 data — the first oral proteasome inhibitor in clinical trials is big news! And certainly we at Millennium are proud to be the pioneers of and leaders in protein homeostasis.
Ms. Pai assured me there is nothing wrong with the data–and MLN9708 is right on track. Good to know! An oral alternative to Velcade would be an excellent addition to a multiple myeloma patient’s growing arsenal of therapy options.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat