Incyte (INCY) ended 2016 with a big deal. The company agreed to pay Merus (MRUS) $120 million and to buy $80 million in Merus stock for the exclusive rights to 11 bispecific antibody programs. The companies will work together to develop and commercialize these programs that utilize Merus’ proprietary Biclonic technology. The 11 programs include two of Merus’ current preclinical immuno-oncology discovery efforts. This is Incyte’s first effort in antibodies. Bispecific anbidoies have the ability to bind to multiple protein targets simultaneously, which could be a huge advantage as Incyte works to develop new oncology drug candidates using its small molecule expertise.
And then the company began 2017 by announcing a clinical development program with Merck (MRK) that looks to expand the use of epadadostat, Incyte’s IDO1 inhibitor, in combination with Merck’s KEYTRUDA in treating four additional cancers: non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, bladder cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
I think the two developments together illustrate Incyte’s development into what is potentially a first-class stand alone specialist in new cancer treatments. The company has 12 drug development candidates in its current pipeline to go with growth in its Jakafi franchise and pending approval of baricitinib for rheumatoid arthritis.
Incyte is a member of my Jubak Picks portfolio. I raised my target price for the stock to $125 on November 17, 2016. As of January 10, I’m raising my target again to $140 a share. Shares of Incyte climbed 9.44% today, January 9, to $118.53.