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Erasca Garners Rights to Two Precision Oncology Agents, Begins Dosing Patients in Phase I Study

NEW YORK – San Diego-based precision oncology firm Erasca on Wednesday announced that it has added two new targeted cancer agents to its pipeline through licensing deals, and that it has dosed the first patient in a clinical trial evaluating one of these agents, the SHP2 inhibitor ERAS-601.

The firm licensed exclusive worldwide rights to ERAS-601 from Delaware-headquartered biotech company NiKang Therapeutics, an agreement through which Erasca will also own the rights to all other SHP inhibitors developed by NiKang. The other agent that Erasca has added to its pipeline, the ERK inhibitor ERAS-007, was licensed from New Jersey-based Asana BioSciences. That deal also gives Erasca rights to any other ERK inhibitors developed by Asana. The company did not share the financial details of these licensing agreements.   

Erasca also said that it has begun enrolling patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors into a Phase I study of ERAS-601. The primary aims of the trial, dubbed FLAGSHP-1, include evaluating the agent's safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and preliminary antitumor activity. The dose expansion portion of the study will enroll patients with specific molecular alterations in their tumors. According to a statement from Jonathan Lim, Erasca's chairman, CEO, and co-founder, "If ERAS-601 successfully blocks SHP2 activity in patients, it has the potential to become a flagship therapy for many patients with various solid tumors."

Erasca's ultimate strategy for targeting cancer tumors is to combine the SHP2 and ERK inhibitors to effectively "clamp" a tumor's RAS/MAPK signaling pathway, inhibiting oncogenic drivers by targeting both upstream and downstream nodes.