Alkermes separates cancer drug business as new company Mural

Dive Brief:

  • Dublin-based Alkermes on Wednesday said it completed the separation of its oncology business, putting its research focus squarely on a pipeline of neuroscience medicines.
  • The cancer drug business, now known as Mural Oncology, will start life as an independent biotechnology company with $275 million in cash, which it expects will last it through 2025. Alkermes investors gained one ordinary share in Mural for every 10 Alkermes shares they held.
  • Starting Nov. 16, Mural Oncology will trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the stock ticker “MURA,” while Alkermes will continue to trade under “ALKS.”

Dive Insight:

Alkermes has been planning this separation for the past year. Its decision was the result of a strategic review on how best to allocate resources between launching an approved schizophrenia medicine and testing its cancer drugs.

With the split, Mural will take the reins on developing a therapy called nemvaleukin alfa for a variety of solid tumors. The therapy is an engineered IL-12 cytokine that’s designed to spur immune cells against tumors. Mural hopes nemvaleukin alfa can offer a better balance of safety and efficacy than recombinant human IL-2.

The research field has been a challenging one: Other companies have set out to develop different flavors of IL-2-targeting drugs, but faced setbacks in clinical testing.

Mural’s candidate is in two potentially registrational studies; one for treating platinum-resistant ovarian cancer in combination with Merck & Co.’s Keytruda, and one as a monotherapy for mucosal melanoma. Readouts for both are expected in the first quarter of 2025. The company also has discovery-stage programs evaluating engineered IL-18 and IL-12 cytokines

Meanwhile, Alkermes will continue its work on neurological disorders and support the launch of its schizophrenia drug Lybalvi.

Richard Pops will maintain his position as CEO of Alkermes. Mural Oncology will be led by Caroline Loew, who was previously CEO Glympse Bio and, before that, worked for Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck.

As of Sept. 30, Alkermes held just under $1 billion in total cash and investments.