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Verastem Oncology

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Verastem, Inc.
Traded as
IndustryPharmaceutical Industry
HeadquartersNeedham, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Robert M. Forrester (President and CEO)

Dan Paterson (COO)

Jonathan Pachter Ph.D. (CSO)[1]
Number of employees

Verastem Oncology (Verastem, Inc.) is an American pharmaceutical company that identifies, develops and commercializes medicines to treat certain cancers.[2] Headquartered and founded in Boston, Massachusetts, Verastem Oncology is a member of NASDAQ Biotechnology Index. [3]

Business History[edit | edit source]

Verastem was co-founded in 2010 by a biotechnology entrepreneur Christoph H. Westphal and a venture capitalist Michelle Dipp, who provided seed funding and initial office space in Cambridge, MA. Lab research conducted by three other co-founders, MIT biologists Robert F. Weinberg, Eric S. Lander and Piyush Gupta, laid the foundation for what became Verastem's focus of discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by targeting cancer stem cells.[4][5]

Verastem Oncology raised $16 million in the initial Series A financing.[6] Subsequent rounds of financing were Series B with $32 million and Series C with $20 million.[7]

Westphal served as CEO and Chairman of the Board for Verastem Oncology from 2010 to 2013. Under his leadership, the company raised $55 million through an IPO in 2012.[8] Verastem's current President and CEO Robert Forrester has succeeded Christoph Westphal in 2013.[9]

Pipeline[edit | edit source]

The leading investigational drug for Verastem Oncology, defactinib (VS-6063), a small-molecule focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor designed to kill cancer stem cells, was studied for the treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.[10] In October 2015, Verastem announced the premature termination of the company's late-stage clinical trial for defactinib in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma after data analysis demonstrated the drug was not effective enough to continue clinical trials.[11][12] Phase II COMMAND trial was discontinued due to finding no significant differences in efficacy versus placebo.[13] Following the failure of its clinical study, the company had to cut 50% of its workforce.[14]

In November 2016, Verastem Oncology licensed global rights from Infinity Pharmaceuticals to duvelisib (IPI-145), a novel inhibitor of PI3K delta and gamma.[15] A deal between Infinity and Verastem included no upfront payment, a $6 million milestone payment for success in a Phase 3 trial in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a $22 million payment for an FDA approval and royalties.[16] In April 2018, Verastem filed a New Drug Application (NDA) for duvelisib for the treatment of relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) and accelerated approval for relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma (FL). The results of the clinical study DUO were published in Blood Journal.[17]

Verastem Oncology received an FDA approval for duvelisib on September 24, 2018 as a treatment for adult patients with 3rd-line chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma, and an accelerated approval as a 3rd-line treatment for follicular lymphoma, contingent on the results of a confirmatory trial.[18] The drug label carries a black box warning due to the risk of potentially fatal or serious toxicities: infections, diarrhea or colitis, cutaneous reactions and pneumonitis.[19]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Management Team". Verastem. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  2. "Company Overview". NASDAQ. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  3. "Verastem Oncology Added to NASDAQ Biotechnology Index®". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  4. Sadeghi-Nejad, Nathan (10 October 2012). "Cancer Stem Cell Therapy: Real Or Just Hype?". Forbes.
  5. "Verastem lands $32m in financing". 15 July 2011.
  6. Timmerman, Luke (16 November 2010). "Verastem, Founded by MIT Big Names, Raises $16M to Fight Cancer Stem Cells". Xconomy.
  7. "Funding Rounds". Crunchbase. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  8. "Verastem Bucks the Trend, Raises $55M in IPO". 26 January 2012.
  9. "Verastem Switches CEOs as Westphal Steps Into Chairman Role". 6 June 2013.
  10. "Compound Summary for CID 25117126". National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  11. "Placebo Controlled Study of VS-6063 in Subjects With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (COMMAND)". Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  12. Dulaney, Chelsey (28 September 2015). "Verastem to Wind Down Mesothelioma Study". Wall Street Journal.
  13. Meredith, Nancy (15 October 2015). "Dashed Hopes in the Mesothelioma Community After COMMAND Trial Stops Enrollment". Mesothelioma Help.
  14. "Westphal's Verastem slashes staff in the wake of a clinical trial flop". Fierce Biotech. 15 October 2015.
  15. "Verastem Licenses Infinity Cancer Candidate Duvelisib". Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. 2 November 2016.
  16. Fidler, Ben (2 November 2016). "Verastem Takes a Low-Cost Flier on Infinity's Blood Cancer Drug". Xconomy.
  17. Flinn, Ian; O’Brien, Susan (15 May 2017). "Duvelisib, a novel oral dual inhibitor of PI3K-δ,γ, is clinically active in advanced hematologic malignancies". Blood. 131 (8): 877–887. doi:10.1182/blood-2017-05-786566. PMC 6033052. PMID 29191916.
  18. "Duvelisib (COPIKTRA, Verastem, Inc.) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)". FDA. 24 September 2018.
  19. Carroll, John (24 September 2018). "Unwanted by AbbVie and Infinity, battered Verastem gets an OK for duvelisib and a second shot at success". Endpoints News.

External links[edit | edit source]

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Category:Pharmaceutical companies of the United States Category:Companies listed on NASDAQ Category:Pharmaceutical companies established in 2010

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