Incyte wants to take on cancer with specialized therapies

Reid Huber
Reid Huber

Reid Huber, executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Incyte, has a simple formula for how the company can keep ahead in a drug therapy environment that is moving more rapidly every year.

“Speed, creativity and thinking 12 steps ahead is where the action is,” he says.

That mantra is helping to fuel Incyte’s research and development of drug therapies. Its signature product, Jakafi, has been helping patients fight bone cancers and marrow disorders for several years. The company recently received approval outside the U.S. — and is conducting studies in this country — for Baricitinib, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Five other products are now in what Huber deems the “pivotal development” stage, meaning they are not far from approval, either.

“We’ve been going at a pretty good clip,” Huber says. Incyte is working to create therapies that allow the body’s immune system to fight certain diseases, particularly cancer. Instead of attacking tumors, its products aim to kick-start people’s own defenses, with the hope of creating a more personalized approach to overcoming malignancies and preventing their reappearances.

“We want to be much more targeted in our approach, so that the drugs people take to fight cancer do not have deleterious effects,” Huber says. “If a drug has significant side effects, it limits the ability to add other drugs on top of it.”

That can decelerate the fight against cancer, and as Huber knows, this is no time for slowing down.

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