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Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May. 8, 2019, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Nektar Therapeutics First Quarter 2019 Financial Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference call may be recorded.

I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Ms. Jennifer Ruddock, Head of Investor Relations. Ma'am, you may begin.

Jennifer Ruddock -- Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs

Thank you, Crystal. Good afternoon, everyone and thank you for joining us today. With us are Howard Robin, our President and CEO; Gil Labrucherie, our Chief Financial Officer; Dr. Stephen Doberstein, our Head of R&D Dr. Jonathan Zalevsky, our Chief Scientific Officer; and Dr. Mary Tagliaferri, our Chief Medical Officer.

On today's call, we expect to make forward-looking statements regarding our business, including the timing of future clinical trials and clinical trial results, clinical development plans, including the plans to start future clinical trials, the therapeutic potential of certain drugs and drug candidates, as well as those of our partners, our financial guidance for 2019 and certain other statements regarding the future of our business.

Because these forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are subject to inherent uncertainties and risks that are difficult to predict and many of which are outside of our control. Important risks and uncertainties are set forth in the Form 10-K that was filed on March 1, 2019 and which is available at www.sec.gov. We undertake no obligation to update any of these statements whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. A webcast of this call will be available on the Investor Relations page of Nektar's website at nektar.com.

With that, I will now turn the call over to our President and CEO, Howard Robin. Howard?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jennifer and thank you to everyone for joining us on the call today. On today's call, we will review our planned milestones over the coming months, including the continued trial starts for the registrational program for bempeg, additional trials with other bempeg collaborators, new study is being initiated for NKTR-358 with our partner Lilly, and the advancement of NKTR-255 our IL-15 agonist program, and next IO candidate. We will also provide guidance on clinical data presentations, planned throughout the year and reiterate our financial guidance for 2019.

Starting first with chronic pain and an update on NKTR-181. The opioid crisis continues to be front page news in our country. We continue to believe that a significant and necessary building block to addressing the opioid crisis is providing new pain medications that don't carry the same profiles as the existing opioid mechanisms on the market. And to this end, we remain confident the NKTR-181 can be an important building block in addressing the crisis and potentially helping patients new to opioid therapy suffering from chronic low back pain.

We continue to work closely with the FDA during the review of NKTR-181, as we've done throughout its development and the PDUFA is August 29. We remained confident in the entire data package supporting our NDA submission and the FDA has informed us that they plan to hold an advisory committee meeting to review our NDA, a general timeline of August has been suggested, but no firm date has been set.

As I stated last quarter, we have established a separate subsidiary Company to launch NKTR-181. We expect to announce a new Company and Management Team members within the next several weeks. As we head to a potential approval, our objective is to finalize the capital structure with one or more potential capital partners to support commercial launch. We believe the launch can be done efficiently with a specialized medical liaison team and a small sales force. To prepare for launch, we are completing the production of launch inventory, as well as market access preparation and distribution arrangements. We continue to be very excited about the future for NKTR-181.

Moving now to immuno-oncology. We continue to execute on our strategy to develop a full pipeline of new potential medicines that address the key components of the immune cycle, in order to restore immune surveillance and properly harness the body's immune system to fight cancer. Starting with bempeg in our collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, we have initiated a number of registrational trials for the bempeg and nivo doublet combination in first-line metastatic melanoma, renal cell carcinoma and bladder cancer and we added a new expansion on to PIVOT focused on enrolling second-line non-small cell lung cancer patients following treatment and relapse and first-line with chemo and checkpoint therapy.

The joint development plan with Bristol includes many registrational trials across multiple tumor types. BMS and NKTR are currently working on designs for the next wave of trials in lung, breast, gastric and colorectal cancers as well as sarcoma. Our two teams have been working very closely together on trial designs and a changing competitive landscape. We are developing a comprehensive registrational strategy and one that positions competitively the doublet of bempeg and nivo, as well as the triplet of bempeg, nivo and ipi across various tumor types in our collaboration.

As you know from the start of our collaboration, we were targeting early June for the submission of INDs for the studies in our joint development plan. Given the scope and complexity of the program, Nektar has agreed to extend the target date by four months, for registrational trials in the joint development program that have not yet been started. As we stated earlier in the year, the data from additional PIVOT cohorts in other tumor types mature over the next 12 months. Nektar and Bristol are planning to present the data at various medical meetings, including tumor specific conferences.

And let me start with our plans for ASCO this year. We have several presentations accepted for this meeting. First on Saturday, June 1, Dr. Michael Hurwitz of Yale Cancer Center will be presenting additional translational data from PIVOT. Although not in the abstract, during this presentation, we plan to provide 12 month follow-up from the first-line melanoma cohort in the PIVOT study. This will be a follow-up to Dr. Diab's SITC 2018 presentation, which at that time had a median 7.2 month follow-up for patients in that cohort. This presentation will include an update on the ongoing deepening of responses from the cohort. In order to further illustrate the continued benefit of the combination of bempeg and nivo over time. Now at the 12 month median follow-up time, the data are still too early to calculate median PFS.

Second on Monday, June 3, there will be an oral presentation showing preliminary activity observed in patients with late line rapidly progressing and rare sarcoma subtypes enrolled in an investigator sponsored exploratory study of bempeg and nivo conducted by Dr. Sandra D'Angelo from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

As we stated last quarter, we are also currently targeting several presentations a PIVOT data in 2019, including lung cancer data at this year's ESMO meeting. Nektar and BMS are also currently planning to submit data from the triple-negative breast cancer cohort for presentation at the quadruplet CRI meeting in September and for RCC, we are targeting the 18th International Kidney Cancer Symposium in November. For RCC, we plan to present data from two cohorts and PIVOT the doublet of bempeg and nivo and the triplet of bempeg, nivo and ipi.

Pfizer and Nektar are currently finalizing the Phase 1b/2 study in head and neck cancer and castration resistant prostate cancer. Pfizer plans to initiate this study in the middle of Q3. The study will evaluate various doublet and triplet combinations with bempeg and Pfizer and Merck Serono's anti-PD-L1 agent avelumab, Pfizer's PARP inhibitor and Pfizer and Astellas' anti-androgen agent. We're very excited to work with Pfizer on this because of the opportunity, and these two solid tumor settings for bempeg particularly in patients with PD-L1 negative tumors.

We also have an ongoing study with Takeda to combine bempeg with Takeda's TAK-659, which is a dual SYK/FLT inhibitor in liquid tumors. We know that the three mechanisms together IL-2, SYK and FLT showed a dramatic effect in our preclinical model. So we're excited about the first study, which has already started in advanced NHL patients.

Moving onto updates for NKTR-255, our IL-15 agonist cytokine, which is currently in IND enabling studies. We know that the activation the IL-15 pathway in addition to creating memory T cells also strongly promotes the expansion, activation and survival of natural killer cells, NKTR-255 has applications in both liquid and solid tumors with this mechanism could greatly enhance ADCC antibodies such as Daratumumab. We are targeting completion of the IND enabling work for NKTR-255 in the second half of this year, and we're currently designing our first clinical trials in both liquid and solid tumor settings.

We also have a preclinical collaboration with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, evaluating the use of NKTR-255 to enhance CAR-T persistence and improve overall responses following CAR-T. Fred Hutchinson is planning the first presentation of this preclinical data at the European Hematology Association Congress being held June 13 to 16 in Amsterdam. Based on the preclinical data, we are also planning a clinical trial in combination with CD19 CAR T Cells as one of our NKTR-255 development programs.

In the fourth quarter of last year, we entered into a research collaboration with Gilead to explore NKTR-255 with different Gilead molecules and their portfolio in the area of urology. These preclinical studies in non-human primate models started earlier this year and the program is proceeding nicely. I'd like to move on to discuss the great progress we're making with our partner Eli Lilly on the advancement of NKTR-358 R, our Treg cell stimulator candidate being developed to address various autoimmune conditions. As you know, we have an ongoing Phase 1b multiple ascending dose study in lupus patients that is proceeding nicely through dose escalation phase, and we expect that the study will complete later this year.

We are very pleased that our first in human data from the Phase 1a study was accepted for an oral presentation at the European Congress of Rheumatology to be held June 12 to 15 in Madrid. The oral presentation will be on June 13, and the Genetics, epigenetics and immunity session. The presentation will includes data from our completed single ascending dose study of NKTR-358 in healthy volunteers. And we will also host an investor call to review the data presentation for those unable to attend are EULAR.

Lilly is currently designing a Phase 2 lupus study, which will start following the completion of our Phase 1b study at the end of this year. In addition, Lilly is also designing two additional Phase 1b studies in two new autoimmune indications that will start in the second half of this year. We remained very excited about NKTR-358 emerging as a potential resolution therapeutic in the treatment of autoimmune disease.

And with that, I'll hand the call over to Gil for a review of our financials.

Gil M. Labrucherie -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Howard and good afternoon, everyone. I will start with a brief review of highlights from our first quarter 2019 financial results and then, I'll review our 2019 financial guidance. We ended the first quarter with $1.8 billion of cash and investments. Total revenue was $28.2 million for the quarter compared to $38 million for the first quarter of 2018. R&D expense was $118.5 million in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to $99.4 million for the first quarter of 2018. The increase in R&D expense in 2019 as compared to the same quarter of 2018 is a result of the expanded clinical development of bempeg, NKTR-358, NKTR-262 and NKTR-255.

In Q1 2019, bempeg R&D expense included registrational studies in RCC, melanoma, bladder, non-small cell lung cancer and manufacturing cost to supply the future abroad bempeg clinical development program. G&A expense was $25 million in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to $18.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. G&A expense increased, primarily due to commercialization readiness activities for NKTR-181 and increased non-cash stock compensation expense. We recognized the net loss of $118.5 million for the first quarter of 2019 or $0.68 loss per share as compared to a net loss of $95.8 million or $0.60 loss per share in the first quarter of 2018.

Now let's turn to our 2019 financial guidance, which is unchanged from our last call. Starting with our cash position, we continue to anticipate and in 2019 with approximately $1.5 billion with the receivable balance of approximately $65 million to $75 million due from BMS at the end of 2019. As a reminder, our R&D expense is accounted for net of BMS share of bempeg development costs and our annual R&D expense obligation with BMS is subject to a $125 million annual cap that will not limit our annual cap R&D expense, but will limit our annual cash funding obligation prior to the commercialization of bempeg.

Our full year GAAP revenue guidance remains at between $100 million and $110 million in 2019. We continue to expect revenue to be fairly ratable on a quarterly basis. Our GAAP expense guidance is also unchanged. We still anticipate 2019 GAAP R&D expense will range between $500 million and $525 million, which includes approximately $80 million of non-cash depreciation and stock compensation expense. As we complete a number of bempeg manufacturing batches in Q2, we do expect R&D expense to be relatively higher in Q2 as compared to the other quarters of 2019.

As a component of R&D expense, we expect our bempeg manufacturing investment to be significant in 2019 as we build our drug supply to support the multiyear clinical development plan for bempeg. Under our collaboration, BMS generally shares an approximately 35% of bempeg manufacturing and supply cost. Beyond bempeg, R&D investment is funding the advancement of a broad clinical development pipeline including NKTR-358, NKTR-262, NKTR-255 as well as future IND candidates currently in the research stage.

In 2019, we will complete the manufacturer of NKTR-181 commercial launch supplies that are included in R&D expense and not capitalized into inventory prior to regulatory approval. G&A expense for 2019 is still projected to be between $110 million and $120 million. We continue to invest in activities necessary to support regulatory approval of NKTR-181 and we are carefully staging our investment in commercial readiness for NKTR-181 as we approach a potential approval later this year.

And with that, I will open the call for questions, operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) And our first question comes from Chris Shibutani from Cowen. Your line is open.

Chris Shibutani -- Cowen -- Analyst

Great. Thank you very much, I appreciate the updates across all the programs. If I could just get to in particular relating to bempeg and the Bristol relationship. You commented that there is non-extension in the timelines. I believe that was the phrase you used in terms of requiring to meet the commitments of beginning, all the different trials and indications. Can you comment about what the genesis of that is? Are there any issues at all with enrolling or is it going to shift the strategy that would be helpful.

Secondly, the list of all the different incremental readouts is much appreciated. But then if we were to try and think about what indications might get across or approach the finish line first to the extent that, that also kind of the first one through the fire so to speak. Can you help us with how we should think about it? I remember that melanoma started first etc, but when we think about crossing our approach in this finish line. Can you help us with how the sequencing of that could be as we think about sort of moments of truth to get through next key stages? Thank you.

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thanks, Chris. Look, in regard to the four month extension look these are very, very complex programs, as you know, we already have six INDs filed. We're preparing the next five, six, seven INDs we're working very closely with BMS. We have a great relationship with them. And this is a tremendous amount of work and a lot of thinking must go into these studies to get them right. It's a rapidly evolving competitive landscape and we want to make sure that we are successful. We want to make sure that we're successful with these trials. I think an extension of four months is something that we think it's perfectly reasonable in terms of this such a complex development plan. And maybe, we were little aggressive on the initial timelines, but in any case, I think we're moving forward rapidly, and we have a definite focus between the two companies to get this done. Regarding what you might see in terms of readouts, I'm going to let Mary take that question. Mary?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. Thanks. Hi, Chris. Yeah. In terms of incremental readouts as now we have four registrational trials ongoing now. We're actively recruiting and that includes our first-line metastatic urothelial carcinoma or bladder cancer study, our first-line melanoma Phase III trial. We also have our PIVOT-02 expansion cohort for relapsed refractory lung cancer cohort actually these stations are patients who are relapsed to first-line treatment with chemotherapy plus a checkpoint inhibitor and then the fourth Phase III clinical trial, we have is our first line RCC study.

And in terms of the sequence of the readouts, we expect that the bladder cancer trial would read out first, the melanoma and expansion cohort from PIVOT-02 could be the second and third trials. And the fourth trial would be the Phase III clinical trial in RCC, where we are comparing bempeg plus nivo versus TKI.

Chris Shibutani -- Cowen -- Analyst

Great. In terms of mindset than if bladder is coming first and I think there has been something impressive data there, would your and Bristol's mindset be to press forward with that as an individual indication into perhaps regulatory filings, or would there be a sense of meaning to or wanting to cluster with other readouts that maybe in some ways proximate to give you, I don't know multiple shots on goal, but could bladder go first through the fire so to speak?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. It's possible that bladder to go first and as we've shared before, we have had conversations with the FDA about the potential of this trial. The used for an accelerated approval and we've also shared with you that we have a confirmatory trial agreed upon with the FDA, which is our muscle invasive bladder cancer Phase III trial. So it is possible that could be the first filing for the Company.

Chris Shibutani -- Cowen -- Analyst

Great. Thank you. That's helpful, I'll go back into the queue.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Paul Choi from Goldman Sachs. Your line is open. Please check that your line is not on mute. And we'll move on to our next question from Jessica Fye from JPMorgan. Your line is open.

Jessica Fye -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Good afternoon. Thanks for taking my questions. Just if you -- first just following up on Chris' question sorry if I missed this, what was the prior deadline for starting the pivotal studies and what's the new deadline under the Bristol collaboration? Then to confirm the -- sorry, you can go ahead.

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No, go ahead Jessica. You finish it off.

Jessica Fye -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Okay. The melanoma update you mentioned at ASCO, did you say that we will not have data in the abstract. And just to confirm, did you also say that there has been further deepening of responses since the SITC update. And then lastly on the sarcoma IFP data at ASCO. Should we expect data from sarcoma patients in that abstract?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Thanks. Well, first of all, let me take the first question. The contract and the agreement in the collaboration was to have the trials running by June by next month. And we moved that to end of September, so we moved that four months. So the new date is end of September and as I said, we did that recognizing the complexity of all the work has to be -- that has to be done and also potentially a little ambitious in any case, I did talk about the presentation of melanoma data at ASCO, where we will talk about a deepening of response. I'm going to let Mary cover that a bit. Go ahead Mary.

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. So, as you know just over 5,000 abstracts are submitted to ASCO and she was accepted for an oral presentation and Dr. Sandra D'Angelo will be presenting data on multiple different sarcoma histology some that are very rare and she will be breaking out responses, based on these various cohorts by histology, including myosarcoma, undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma and chondro sarcoma. These patients who have been enrolled to her study where advanced patients who were refractory to multiple agents. It is possible that Dr. D'Angelo will be adding more patients to the roughly 50 that she included in her abstracts.

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And Mary, you also cover what are the -- some discussion on melanoma because we talked about that there.

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. Sure. So in terms of melanoma, you'll remember, Jess, that we provided an update at SITC last year and at that time, we had roughly a follow-up of 7.2 months and you'll remember that we had confirmed responses by independent radiology those 53% with a CR rate of 24%. And so we will be providing an update on the deepening of response as Howard mentioned at our presentation at ASCO.

Jessica Fye -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

And will patient data be in the abstract for melanoma?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

No. We won't have patient data in the abstract.

Jessica Fye -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Got it. Could I just ask one more for Howard. In the beginning, when you're talking about 181, and I think you mentioned the potential Adcom comp, did you say, it could be in the August time frame i.e. very close to the PDUFA date?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. The FDA has told us that they want to have an AdCom likely be in August, we don't have a day yet. Steve, would you like to comment further on that.

Stephen K. Doberstein -- Chief Research and Development Officer

Yeah. Sure. Thanks, Jess. The AdCom date, as we try to get it scheduled in August, that's when the FDA has indicated there, they are shooting for, that may seem a little bit close to the PDUFA date. But in fact with this particular division, there is a pretty good precedent for rapid turnaround after an AdCom to a potential approval decision almost immediately afterwards. For example, the most recent example, I can think of is DSUVIA, where there was an AdCom and then the approval happened about three weeks later, so they can turn around pretty quickly with this -- in this particular division. So I'm not particularly concerned about the closeness in time of a potential AdCom to the PDUFA date.

Jessica Fye -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from George Farmer from BMO Capital Markets. Your line is open.

George Farmer -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hi. Thanks for taking my questions. I want to dig into a bit more on the melanoma data that we'll be seeing at ASCO. Did you say that you have not hit your median PFS, as of 12 months or as of today?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. Hi. So we have a 12-month follow-up and we will be presenting data from our 12 month median follow-up for this cohort and to-date, the data are too immature to calculate the median PFS.

George Farmer -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And can you comment as to how many patients are remaining on treatment as of today?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Not as of today, but as of 50 in 2018, we did have seven patients that could have had deepening of responses on treatment that had not reached a CR. And so we will be able to provide an update on how these patients have progressed now at a 12 month median follow-up.

George Farmer -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. And also getting back to previous question about 181. It does seem a little tight to have that the panel so close to the PDUFA. I mean, is it possible that the PDUFA could be extended again?

Stephen K. Doberstein -- Chief Research and Development Officer

Hi. This is Steve Doberstein. From a regulatory standpoint, it's actually not correct for the agency to formally move the PDUFA. However, it is possible for them to miss their PDUFA date, they really don't like to do that and we don't expect them to.

George Farmer -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Bert Hazlett from BTIG. Your line is open.

Robert Hazlett -- BTIG -- Analyst

Yes. Thanks. Just following up, the 181 discussion. Have you had any interactions with regard to scheduling of 181, any color that would be helpful? And then just with regard to the Takeda collaboration and your comments there. When might we expect some data coming from that collaboration? Thank you.

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, hi -- with respect to 181, we make a recommendation for schedule -- for scheduling during the process, but of course, that discussion happens between FDA who makes a recommendation to DEA post approval, and so we wouldn't expect that kind of scheduling decision or advanced discussion to happen until after the PDUFA date.

Jonathan Zalevsky -- Chief Scientific Officer

And hey, Bert. This is JZ in response to your question about the Takeda collaboration. The trial really just got under way and so it's in the very earliest stages. So we expect that it may would take at least a year or so to enroll enough patients. So we'd probably be looking something that's reasonable is the timeframe next year or we will be looking at data from that trial.

Robert Hazlett -- BTIG -- Analyst

Good. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Difei Yang from Mizuho Securities. Your line is open.

Difei Yang -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Hi. Good afternoon and thanks for taking my question. Just a couple, the first one is on 181. How do you think about the potential sales force and potential burn to launch on 181? And then secondarily, with regards to the four months delay on BMS collaboration. In between that four months delay, is it just a tactical delay that they need more time -- you need more time to prepare for the IND or is there any data read out you are expecting maybe perhaps that will help to inform the decision?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Great. Good questions. I think and the lot of question know, no there is no data -- there's no data readout that we're waiting for it is, it is purely the work that has to get done and making sure that we get everything right and making sure that we are extremely competitive and how we manage and how we design our study. So there is no data being looked for here. Regarding your first question about NKTR-181. I think this is a very -- this is a unique opioid molecule. The goal is to market it and put it forward in a way that really helps patients who have chronic low back pain and where they can get a benefit from hopefully less abusable opioid.

I think, we are seeking equity partners for this. We expect to have capital coming into fund this subsidiary that we've created. And I think it's a fairly small sales organization. I don't think this is a mass marketing concept. I think what we're doing is looking for a small sales organization maybe medical scientific liaisons. This is a very technical scientific story behind NKTR-181. This is not your average opioid. It's a very different molecules probably the first new opioid molecule in 50 years, and I expect that it will be launched in a very, very high science focused way with a fairly small sales organization.

Difei Yang -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Just a quick follow-up on the partnership for 181. Do you expect to spin-off this operation or will they -- will it be an operations still for the Nektar umbrella?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, good question and it's not -- at this point, its not a partnership, it's a wholly owned subsidiary of course, we do expect outside funding in that. I think at some point that could very well happen. At some point to could very well be spun-off entity. And I think it's being set up to potentially do that, let see how well the drug does. I think the drug solves or at least head goes along way to solving some of the problems that we currently face in this opioid crisis, and if we're successful there, then there is no reason to believe this can't be an entity on to itself one day.

Difei Yang -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks for taking my questions.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Tyler Van Buren from Piper Jaffray. Your line is open.

Tyler Van Buren -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Hey. Good afternoon, guys. Looking forward to the rest of the year, there's a lot -- with a lot of clinical updates. I had a couple follow-ups with respect to the ASCO data presentations. So my understanding, I think it's what nivo monotherapy median progression-free survival 6.9 months. If I recall that correctly, and so if median PFS if it's too early to be calculated with 12 months of follow up, obviously it's going to be important to see disease control rate and response rates, but isn't that disclosure alone meaningful and suggest that it's tracking well ahead of that? And also secondarily, could you remind us of what median -- appropriate median PFS comp is for nivo, ipi combination therapy?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. Thanks for the great wise question, Tyler. We are definitely very pleased with the fact that the data are still too immature to calculate the median PFS. And, as you know, even with Ipi Plus pivo which showed us statistically significant difference in PFS that was less than 12 months as a median PFS, so that's already been published. Likewise, even with our CR rate at 24% at just the seven month median follow-up. We also had a much higher almost double CR rate compared to Ipi plus Nivo and more than that compared to Nivo alone.

So one last comment I'll make is about AEs. When you look at the four year survival data, there's almost a 60% grade 3 AR rate with a very high dropout rate. And when we presented the data at SITC this year, we have less than 20% of patients having a grade 3 AEs and we have very few patients who have to go off treatment due to any adverse events. So the totality of all this data of patients being able to tolerate treatment high disease control rate, high CR rate, and very good objective response rate by independent radiology, which will be the arbiter of course in our Phase III trial. We are very pleased moving forward into a pivotal registrational study. So thanks for the question.

Tyler Van Buren -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Great. That's very helpful color. Just one last question on sarcoma. Clearly, it's a difficult indication and especially in refractory patients with limited options. I've got to imagine the bars relatively low, but can you help set expectations on, if you throw whatever -- there is available at these patients, what response rates you would expect in this patient population?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. It's a great question, Tyler. The nice part is, this is Dr. Sandra D'Angelo is an expert, not only in sarcoma at one of the largest cancer centers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering that focuses on sarcoma, but she also is an expert on the treatment of sarcoma with IO agents. So she has published on the treatment of sarcoma with both single agent Nivo and Ipi plus Nivo and she intends to put color and that into perspective during her presentation at the podium at ASCO, so please come.

Tyler Van Buren -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Okay. Understood. Yeah. Thanks for taking the questions.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Andy Hsieh from William Blair. Your line is open.

Andy Hsieh -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my questions. Just a follow-up to Tyler's questions earlier, the 12 month follow that's obviously very intriguing. Could you remind me how big that population is currently that allows you to calculate the median?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

No/ Well, just with the total cohort is 38 patients and we'll certainly provide more color at ASCO. We look forward to seeing you there Andy, at our presentations.

Andy Hsieh -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Okay. And in terms of the RCC field, its obviously that rapidly evolving with different modalities being approved. Just curious on your thoughts from a commercial perspective, is PFS alone sufficient from a market positioning perspective now?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yes. So we designed our first RCC Phase III study to have the primary readout to be overall survival and we've given guidance that will take us about 27 months to reach that endpoint. So we will be filing our first Phase III trial study results in RCC on an overall survival endpoint.

Andy Hsieh -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Okay. That's super helpful. And one last one in terms of that deadline, I just want to understand that, is there any sort of liability to Bristol, if the deadline is push back again or just help me understand or is just a goal from both parties to get all the trials started? Just curious about the kind of the function of that deadline is?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. The deadline is basically -- the deadline is missed on any particular clinical trial that just means that Nektar has the right to work in that indication or that line with another checkpoint inhibitor at another company. So it means that we could work with one of the other checkpoint inhibitors. And we -- in that would Nivo if the deadline is missed, that's the consequence of missing the deadline. I think like I said these are complex studies, this is a complex landscape and we wanted to make sure we get it right, so we extended the deadline for months. I think I wouldn't read into it much more than that.

Andy Hsieh -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my questions.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Paul Choi from Goldman Sachs. Your line is open.

Paul Choi -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi. Thank you. Good afternoon and thanks for taking our questions. Maybe with regard to 255 and the CD19 program. I guess can you either Mary or JZ, you maybe clarify for us in terms of the early stage program, what you're thinking about their hurdle rate is versus some of the CAR-T programs, in terms of what you'd want to see early or potentially some of the early data we've seen from the bispecific antibody programs?

Jonathan Zalevsky -- Chief Scientific Officer

Yeah. Hey, Paul. This is JZ, so one of the things that is coming this summer, is that early preclinical presentation from our collaborators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and so they'll be showing data where we've conducted preclinical studies using human CD19 CAR-Ts and the kinds of sort of categories of effect that we'd like to see are ways that we can use NKTR-255 to improve the persistence of the CAR-T cells to improve their long ranging activity to then for example minimize any differentiation that can happen to the cells when they go inside of the organism. Of course, we use preclinical mice, but if it's the same kind of things that you're dealing with in patients.

And then ultimately even more than that is also using an IL-15 mechanism in NKTR-255 right to maintain the homeostasis of the cells their long-term survival. So those are like the kind of categories of activity that you'd like to achieve when considering combination in the CAR-T space. In the setting of say, a bispecific or in the setting of an ADCC antibody, there you're actually looking for a different kind of biology, right. So for example, in an ADCC setting, we're looking to activate and increase the natural killer cell compartment, maintain those cells going for a long, long periods of time. So then when the patients are co-administered the ADCC antibody, they have the best chance of having that kind of synergy of the two mechanisms coming together. So there are different goals in the different use settings.

Paul Choi -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks for that. And with regard to the 358 data that you'll have at EULAR, I guess how do you think about potentially segmenting that data going forward into steroid experience or steroid refractory population. And then in terms of the two new phase Is that you mentioned that are coming up -- have those been posted are disclosed publicly with regard to the population or the indication?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So for the first question, we're going to be presenting data from the single ascending dose study. So this is a study in healthy volunteers. So this is the dataset, that's our first human experience with 358. So there were, there isn't a steroid population or so forth to segment there, we're going to be presenting data on the overall safety profile pharmacokinetic profile of 358. And importantly, we're going to show data on its effect in the pharmacodynamic setting. Its effect on mobilizing the regulatory T-Cell compartment and the specificity and selectivity have targeting T-reg's and non-gauging any of the other T-Cell components that kind of T-reg, T-con ratio.

So we'll be very, very excited to show that data and we're also very excited because this is such an early field. And there are very few agents that have a T-reg targeting and T-reg expansion mechanism of action and NKTR-358 is right up there, one of the most advanced clinical stage molecules that has this kind of mechanism of action.

And then to your second question, so with Eli Lilly, we're very excited. We're expanding the program. And so this year will be initiating additional Phase 1b clinical trials. Now, we mentioned that we already have the Phase 1b running in lupus and these two additional studies are in two different autoimmune disease indications. So we will be really expanding the program. Now that's happening as we move into the Phase II studies that will begin after the Phase 1b ends in lupus.

Paul Choi -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for that. I'll jump in the queue and let others go.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from David Steinberg from Jefferies. Your line is open.

David Steinberg -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Thanks. I want to loop back to 181 with a couple of questions. Is a train (ph) aside among some of the top KOLs and paying that with more abuse to current products or less abusable severe pain drugs at some point, the FDA would remove all the -- not generic opioids or non-ADS from the market. So with each successive approval, the likelihood that could happen. Do you have any view on that, and if so, any thoughts on when it might? And then secondly to the extent, Nektar is involved with the new JV that's going to sell 181 assuming approval. Do you envision it being a one-product company or will there be other products down the road, brought into leverage the sales force? Thanks.

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Look, I think it's certainly difficult to comment about what might happen in the future with the opioid market. Hopefully NKTR-181 develops data over time that demonstrates that it is a potent analgesic as well as a product that is less abusale and can't readily be converted into a more abusable form of opioid. And hopefully at some point that market will be satisfied with the drug like NKTR-181, but it's obviously very difficult to predict what the FDA may do in the future with that. The second part of your question was?

David Steinberg -- Jefferies -- Analyst

It's to, will this just be a one-product company or to the extent that you're involved, well, if think they're going to bring in additional products to leverage the sales force along with 181?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Yeah, that's right. I remember that, David. Thank you. Good question. Look at this point, we've created the subsidiary to market NKTR-181. It is entirely possible that there could be other products potentially that are highly, highly synergistic with a drug like NKTR-181 and something we would certainly take a look at and we're always exploring those possibilities and I would expect the new management team of that subsidiary to look at that very carefully. Obviously, whatever we do in that new subsidiary has to be cost efficient and cost effective and have a good return to NKTR and the investors. So well I wouldn't say that's the immediate focus of that subsidiary, it's certainly something that would expect them to consider if it makes sense.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Arlinda Lee from Canaccord. Your line is open.

Arlinda Lee -- Canaccord Genuity -- Analyst

Hi, guys. Thanks taking my questions. I guess that was pretty intrigued about conversion of PD-L1 patient about in earlier conferences. I was wondering if we might see a broader additional information to that effect on any of our data presentation that you highlighted that are coming out later this year. Secondly, I'd be curious about the triple-negative breast cancer data set, and when that data set might look like?

Jonathan Zalevsky -- Chief Scientific Officer

Hey, Arlinda. This is JZ. Let me answer the first question. So first of all, at ASCO, so the poster that will be presenting is on translational data that we've been accumulating to date. And so we are going to present more summary information and among those we will be highlighting the PD-L1 the effect of both PD-L1 levels of baseline, as well as the conversion that we've seen so far. And so that ASCO presentation will summarize that data to date. And then in future presentations that we are doing this year, we will always be adding translational components of our mechanism of action and those will be provided in as appropriate for those tumor-specific updates.

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah, Arlinda. This is Mary. On triple-negative breast cancer, I hope you like to travel to Paris, because if you do, you could need us in the end of September for the 5th Quadruple International Immunotherapy Conference where we will be presenting the data from the triple-negative breast cancer cohort. Remember the benchmark data for single agent checkpoint inhibitors in this patient population is very low, it's 5%. We will show the data and be able to contextualize it in relationship to the data single agent checkpoint inhibitors in the first and second-line population.

Arlinda Lee -- Canaccord Genuity -- Analyst

Great. Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Asthika Goonewardene from Bloomberg Intelligence. Your line is open.

Asthika Goonewardene -- Bloomberg Intelligence -- Analyst

Hi, guys. Thanks for taking my question. What I wanted to ask has been asked already, but I want to maybe focus on, if you could give us an update on some of the other patient groups that were on PIVOT such as second, third line melanoma and RCC etc. Previously you said you had about 50%, 60% of those arms recruited, but where are we on those today and when we can we hope to see some of data this year. And then on the, just a follow-up on Arlinda's question on the pre-post therapy the PD-L1 status. At the post ASCO, we presented that translational data, will that have this the PD-L1 conversion for just melanoma or will it have other tumor types as well? Thank you.

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. So I'll take the first question and I'll pass the second one to JZ. As Howard stated in his presentation, we are working with Bristol on when to present data for all of these cohorts. And we have gone on record this year to state that will be presenting data at three different meetings. We will present the lung data at ESMO, the triple-negative breast cancer data at the Quadruple meeting, that I just responded to Arlinda and we'll provide in RCC update at the 18th International Kidney Cancer Symposium, and we will continue to work very closely with Bristol on where and when to present those data. And JZ, I'll let you answer the second question.

Jonathan Zalevsky -- Chief Scientific Officer

Yeah. Thank you. Mary. Yeah. Just very quickly, so at ASCO, we will be focusing on melanoma and bladder as we're extending the data that we presented earlier, but focusing on the translational elements. And then, later this year, we'll be covering as I mentioned earlier, the additional tumor types and there will be including the translational data including PD-L1 data as appropriate in those presentations.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Daina Graybosch from SVB Leerink. Your line is open.

Daina Graybosch -- SVB Leerink -- Analyst

Hi. Thank you for the question. A couple ones going back to the deadline delay with BMS. You mentioned the changing competitive landscape in those designs. I think somebody previously asked you a question, if you're waiting for any particular readout and you said no. I wonder if you could give more color on the particular competitive dynamics that you're working through In this trial design?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, I wasn't. It's a good question. I wasn't being overly specific, but let me ask Mary to step in and give you some flavor for that.

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah, I know, Daina, you and probably several other people on this call are closely following what's happening in the IO landscape. And just one example that we can give you is in first-line non-small cell lung cancer, for example, the pembrolizumab label as a single agent for first-line non-small cell lung cancer was just expanded in April to include patients that are not only greater than 50% PD-L1 positive at baseline, but now it is expanded to the 1% to 49% population as well. And that certainly gives us pause to talk about our strategy in first-line lung. We've always said we are going with a chemo combination and a chemo-sparing approach, and this has brought us back to the drawing board to talk to our partners about the best path forward, and that's just one example.

Daina Graybosch -- SVB Leerink -- Analyst

Got it. And one more question on the deadline, let's say, we passed the deadline, and hopefully you start most of these registration trials. Thinking forward, if you don't end up starting some let's just pick one maybe sarcoma, based on the data we see at ASCO, depending on how difficult it is. Should we assume that maybe there wasn't enough potential in that particular indication or is it possible that you would go on and collaborate with other checkpoints and companies?

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Yeah. I want to mention again, we have the broadest clinical development program ever known to man in a short period of time and really this delay is a factor of going forward with 18 registrational trials in a short period of time. We were very aspirational. We thought we would hit these 18 in a 14 month timeframe. And I think what we've realized is we need a few more extra months to file all those INDs, design the studies and get the first patient in. Dr. D'Angelo is kind of provide a frame of reference for the data and rare sarcoma subtypes, and she will be able to benchmark that to nivo and Ipi plus nivo, I can tell you that she calls me frequently about her desired in this forward for this patient population that really doesn't have good therapies to prolong survival.

Daina Graybosch -- SVB Leerink -- Analyst

That's great. One last question, it's exciting that you're IL-15 is moving forward. Is that pretty competitive field with a lot of different permutations of IL-15 some in some of the clinic and pre-connect. Could you remind us how your asset is differentiated or how you will differentiate in the development?

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Sure. Great question, Diana. And I'm so, one of the most important things that we felt was critical was to maintain all of the different biological functions of IL-15. And so in this case what that means for this particular cytokine is that it can interact with multiple receptor sub units. And a lot of those sub-units signal in cell, cell contact. When one cell expresses IL-15, parental IL-15 receptor alpha. And it engages a neighboring cell that expresses the two other receptor sub forms, which are the beta and gamma receptors of the IL-2 receptor-class. And this, by the way, we call trans presentation.

And all of the competing molecules that are in the clinic they are actually the IL-15 molecule in complex with the alpha receptor. And so they really act only in the soluble fashion bind to those dimeric receptors, they can't reproduce that trans-presentation as cell-cell contact kind of signaling. NKTR-255 that we made here at Nektar can completely maintain all of the biological functions of IL-15 including trans presentation, as well as signaling is a soluble form.

And importantly, we did not have to introduce any amino acid mutations into our IL-15 molecule to create NKTR-255, which is also completely different than all of the competing pipelines. Some of which carry a large number of mutations in IL-15 which can limit the long-term ability to use such a molecule due to the risk of anti-drug antibodies. So those are some of the key features that go into how NKTR -255 is differentiated from the competition.

And then we're very, very excited because in some of our preclinical studies, so we've been able to demonstrate is the repeat administration of NKTR-255 into non-human primates maintains biological activity with each dose administration cycle. We don't see any kind of tachyphylaxis or limiting or loss of biological effect on repeat administration. This is something very important because there is clinical data out there with IL-15 molecules from other companies that show that repeat administration in the clinic and lead to a loss of biological effect over time. We don't see any of that in our non-human primate studies. So we have a number of points of differentiation that make us very, very excited about that program, and we're really looking forward to getting it into the clinic very soon.

Operator

Thank you. That concludes our conference call for the day. Thank you. And I will hand it back to Howard Robin for any closing remarks.

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you everyone for joining us this afternoon, this evening. And I want to as usual, thank all the employees of Nektar for doing a spectacular job and moving forward with what I think is one of the best immuno-oncology and immunology pipelines in our industry. And I'm very proud of what they've done so. Thank you. And we'll see you at ASCO. Thanks.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today's conference. This does conclude the program. You may all disconnect. Everyone have a wonderful day.

Duration: 56 minutes

Call participants:

Jennifer Ruddock -- Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs

Howard W. Robin -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Gil M. Labrucherie -- Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Mary Tagliaferri -- Chief Medical Officer

Stephen K. Doberstein -- Chief Research and Development Officer

Jonathan Zalevsky -- Chief Scientific Officer

Chris Shibutani -- Cowen -- Analyst

Jessica Fye -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

George Farmer -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Robert Hazlett -- BTIG -- Analyst

Difei Yang -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Tyler Van Buren -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Andy Hsieh -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Paul Choi -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

David Steinberg -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Arlinda Lee -- Canaccord Genuity -- Analyst

Asthika Goonewardene -- Bloomberg Intelligence -- Analyst

Daina Graybosch -- SVB Leerink -- Analyst

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