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Ibrutinib’s Rise

Pharmacyclics and their reactive kinase inhibitor Imbruvica (ibrutinib) have come up a few times around here in the past. (And someone who was involved in its earlier development at Celera shows up here in the comments from time to time). Here’s a piece at Bloomberg that spells out just what a massive return buying that compound has turned out to have. Pharmacyclics picked it up in 2006 for a few million, and it’s expected to have sales of up to 4 billion a year. This is why people keep investing in small pharma and biotech: because neither we, nor they, nor anyone else can predict when this sort of thing will happen next.

15 comments on “Ibrutinib’s Rise”

  1. Saamaanyan says:

    small correction: It’s ibrutinib

  2. Derek Lowe says:

    Hmph. Brain nothing but trouble. Fixed!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I guess that Jim Palmer of Celera was the med chem who was the leading force behind the discovery of Ibrutinib. I also believe that he made no money from its discovery, which has made the smart/experienced CEO of Pharmacyclic a billionaire and a bunch of garden-variety scientists working there multi millionaires.

  4. slcimmuno says:

    some think Cellceutix is that next Pharmacylic. that might be aiming too high — but the company nonetheless has an interesting pipeline. Brilacidin / Defensin Mimetics (antibiotic space) and Kevetrin (oncology).
    Cellceutix Corp. (CTIX) is “One to Watch”

  5. Wavefunction says:

    Nice to see a cancer drug company being valued at the same price as Uber even when everyone knows that Uber is far more important for the fate of humanity.

  6. L. Ron Hubbard says:

    Way to go, Duggan!

  7. biotechtoreador says:

    @4, I assume you work for a penny stock bucket shop?

  8. molecular_architect says:

    As the “someone who shows up from time to time”, I feel a great sense of satisfaction about how ibrutinib is helping patients but thinking about how Celera gave away a blockbuster makes me (and my bank account) cry.
    #3 – Jim was the overall leader of the BTK project. I led the chemistry group that was focused on irreversible warheads to build a BTK probe. Zhengying Pan (now at Peking University – Shanzhen) was the chemist who proposed and synthesized the compound. We had a great team, except for the fools in the executive offices.
    Sadly, I now work for even bigger fools that haven’t a clue about drug discovery (but think they are the best).

  9. Anonymous says:

    #8: I really feel bad that you and Zhengying Pan did not make your well-deserved millions based on your creativity and hard work! The med chems at PCYC must be laughing all the way to the bank.
    I can only guess that you are one of the authors on the following list:
    Discovery of Selective Irreversible Inhibitors for Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase
    Volume 2, Issue 1, pages 58–61, January 15, 2007
    Zhengying Pan Dr., Heleen Scheerens Dr., Shyr-Jiann Li Dr., Brian E. Schultz Dr., Paul A. Sprengeler Dr., L. Chuck Burrill1, Rohan V. Mendonca1, Michael D. Sweeney2, Keana C. K. Scott3, Paul G. Grothaus Dr.1, Douglas A. Jeffery Dr.2, Jill M. Spoerke Dr.2, Lee A. Honigberg Dr.2,4, Peter R. Young Dr.2, Stacie A. Dalrymple Dr.2 andJames T. Palmer Dr.1

  10. slcimmuno says:

    @7 Not at all – hazard the thought. Just a believer that Cellceutix will see through what U Penn researchers (DeGrado, Klein, Tew, Scott) started with Polymedix on the ABX front (Brilacidin, defensin mimetics). As to their in Onc drug, kevetrin, keep your eyes peeled for news out of Dana Farber — yes, that Dana Farber.

  11. Morten G says:

    I hate the defensin mimetic idea mentioned here in the comments. I think resistance will evolve against any synthetic antibiotic and that defensin resistance will result in some extremely dangerous pathogens.

  12. slcimmuno says:

    @12 morten g – and what about the lives and $ saved by getting this class of ABX to market? On the resistance eventually developing front, read this and then Lmk what you think. Thx in adv.
    Brilacidin: Resistance may be — is — futile?

  13. ScientistSailor says:

    @12 etc,
    Brilacidin is clearly a membrane disruptor. Probably also going to be nephrotoxic like AGs and other poly-cationic peptides, will limit its utility…

  14. slcimmuno says:

    @14 – not what the ph2b for ABSSSI showed vs Dapto
    All three Brilacidin treatment arms (two single-dose regimens and one three-day dose regimen) reached the primary endpoint, with the clinical success rate for each dosing regimen statistically comparable to the clinical success rate of the FDA-approved seven-day dosing regimen of daptomycin. All Brilacidin treatment regimens were well tolerated. There were six severe adverse events (SAE) reported across the study, none of which were considered related to Brilacidin by the principal investigator.
    Based upon the data, Cellceutix has decided that a pivotal Phase 3 trial in 2015 will be for a single-dose of Brilacidin for ABSSSI.
    – See more at:

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