Tiny Corbus looks to take on Vertex with experimental lung drug

Mon May 4, 2015 5:40pm EDT
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By Natalie Grover

May 4 (Reuters) - Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc's experimental drug for cystic fibrosis, a rare lung-scarring disease, could be a real money spinner and pose a challenge to rival Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc's successful treatment, Kalydeco.

Corbus, a tiny biopharmaceutical company, received $5 million from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation last month to develop the drug, Resunab, and expects to begin a mid-stage study this quarter.

The company hopes Resunab will treat every patient suffering from the disease, compared with Kalydeco, which has approval to treat a small section of patients. The disease currently affects 70,000 people worldwide.

Kalydeco treats certain underlying genetic mutations behind cystic fibrosis (CF), while Resunab aims to manage the inflammation the disease causes.

"We're not focusing on a particular subset of patients, like Vertex's drug," Chief Executive Yuval Cohen said.

Kalydeco, which was granted fast-track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, received approval in 2012, six years after the company started an early stage trial.

Kalydeco, which had sales of about $464 million in 2014, is being tested in combination with other drugs to expand its use.

It is expected to generate peak sales of $1.1 billion in 2020, according to Thomson Reuters Cortellis.   Continued...