The annual meeting of the America Society of Clinical Oncology came and went, and for the second year in a row, the pandemic meant that collecting cancer was a full-digital affair.
Large drug companies made most of the headlines with data supporting further development of some clinical candidates and, in at least one case, the potential expanded use of a blockbuster cancer drug as an earlier treatment. Targeted therapies are growing rapidly and this year’s conference saw the unveiling of data validating some new targets. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of ASCO 2021.
targeted cancer drugs
Several targeted cancer treatments have gained accelerated FDA approval over the past year, and ASCO took a look at the latest data for some of them. before the conference, Amgen Receives Accelerated FDA Approval for Sotorasib (Lumcras), the first drug approved for the treatment of cancer driven by KRAS gene mutation. What was the drug’s approval based on in non-small cell lung cancer? 36% objective response rate for the drug in an open-label study that evaluated therapy in 124 patients. Overall Survival Data Presented ASCO and in published The median overall survival as of the March 15 cutoff date was 12.5 months, showed the New England Journal of Medicine.
Johnson & Johnson also got FDA approval before ASCO Decision for Raebrevent as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer patients Those whose tumors have a certain genetic signature – mutations in the exon 20 region of the EGFR gene. FDA approval was based on data from an 81-patient open label study with an overall response rate of 40%. Those results were presented at the Cancer Conference. Median Overall Survival Among Those Treated With J&J Medication 22.8 months compared to 13.1 months in those treated with real-world therapies.
Meanwhile, Novartis just unveiled news for a different type of targeted therapy. The pharmaceutical giant reported phase 3 data for 177LU-PSMA-617, a radiation therapy that binds to proteins overexpressed on prostate cancer cells. In the 831-patient study, Overall survival in the treatment group was 15.3 months compared to 11.3 months for those receiving the standard of care. Based on that four-month improvement, Novartis will look forward to FDA submissions. The company also plans to explore the use of 177LU-PSMA-617 in other types of cancer.
Not all ASCO news from Novartis was good. The company also reported that a different radioligand, Luthera, failed The main goal of improving progression-free survival in a pivotal study in midgut neuroendocrine tumors. However, the drug did improve overall survival.
Merck, AstraZeneca report PARP progress
Merck and AstraZeneca Reported Data support the use of their drug, Lynparza, in the treatment of breast cancer patients whose disease is associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. These mutations account for about 5% of all breast cancers. When treated early, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can lead to good patient outcomes. But cancer can recur. To prevent it from coming back, doctors use an adjuvant, which is therapy given after the initial treatment.
One PARP inhibitor, Lynparza, is already approved for metastatic breast cancer. According to the results of a phase 3 study evaluating the drug as an adjuvant for breast cancer, the risk of cancer recurrence, second cancer, or death of the patient was 42% decrease compared to a placebo after one year. Results are preliminary, and patients will continue to be followed. But Andrew Tut, chairman of the steering committee for clinical trials and professor of oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and King’s College London, said the results show the drug has potential to be used as a follow-on to BRCA1 or Prior treatment in patients with 2 mutations.
Digging into Diagnostics Data
eyes are on the grill because its because Proposed acquisition by Illumina faces opposition from antitrust officials. At ASCO the company focused on its cancer diagnosis. The company has said that its Galerie test can detect more than 50 types of cancer from just a small blood sample – early detection can lead to interventions.
The gallery is being evaluated on 6,629 people aged 50 and over. Cancer risk is higher in this age group, but participants in the clinical trial did not have active cancer at the start of the study. In the preliminary results, Grail Reported That the old version of its diagnosis accurately detected 29 cancers in 13 types of diseases. Of the newly discovered cancers, nine of 23 (40%) were localized and more than half of those cancers were detected when they had spread to a more advanced stage. Those participants will be followed for the next 12 months. Final study results are expected in the first half of next year.
The Stars Are Aligning for Constellation Pharma
before the conference, Morphosis announces $1.7 billion deal to acquire Constellation Pharmaceuticals. The focus was on palabresib, a small molecule that the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Constellation has advanced to late-stage testing in myelofibrosis. But MorphoSys officials say they’re also excited about CPI-0209, an earlier-stage constellation compound that has potential applications in both solid and liquid tumors. ASCO took an early look at this Phase 1/2 Result for the small molecule.
CPI-0209 blocks an enzyme called EZH2. The Phase 1 portion of the study provided the safety and tolerability results needed to select the dose for the Phase 2 trial. The phase 1 trial also confirmed the target engagement seen in preclinical research and showed early signs that the drug is working. Constellation reported that one mesothelioma patient showed a durable partial response after four cycles of treatment, while in two other patients, the disease was stable—the tumors were neither growing nor shrinking.
News for a new cancer target
The gene fusion NRG1 is rare, but when it is found, it is highly expressed in cancer cells but not in healthy cells, making it a promising target for cancer drug. Merus aims to treat cancers characterized by this genetic signature with its specific antibody, xenoctuzumab, or “Xeno.”
At ASCO, Netherlands-based Merus presented the latest Step 1/2 Data, which showed a 29% overall response rate in 45 patients. Tumor reduction was seen in four types of cancer: pancreatic, breast, cholangiocarcinoma, and non-small cell lung cancer. The results are encouraging but the sample size is small. Responses in multiple types of tumors May have tumor-agnostic indication for drugHowever, officials acknowledged that discussion with regulators is needed before determining whether these data are sufficient to support a drug application.
interval, but not less than
A class of cancer immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors block the proteins PD-1 and PDL-1. Bristol Myers Squibbo Submit Phase 3 Results In advanced melanoma for rituximab, an antibody drug that targets a different checkpoint protein called LAG-3.
combination of Ritalimab and Bristol’s PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab work better in preventing melanoma from progressing compared to nivolumab alone. Bristol’s Phase 3 results targeting LAG-3 provided validation for others pursuing this goal. Merck’s favezelimab is in late trial in colorectal cancer; Phase 1 data presented at this year’s conference.
In other LAG-3 news, Immutep presents positive Step 2 Data As for its drug, eftilagimod alfa. The Sydney, Australia-based drug developer is testing its LAG-3 inhibitor in combination with Merck’s Keytruda as a first-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. As a second-line treatment for . Immutep reports that so far, about 50% of patients that can be evaluated have responded to treatment.
Public domain image by Stuart S. Martin via image National Cancer Institute