When John Vansteenkiste of Belgium University Hospitals Leuven reported the full results of GlaxoSmithKline's MAGE-A3 failure at the European Society of Medical Oncology's annual congress last weekend, he wasn't the first to outline a cancer vaccine flop. But he did offer a way out from under the dark cloud hanging over the field, and it's one that some cancer vaccine makers are already embracing.
About a year ago Merck KGaA made the controversial decision to revive its late-stage program for the cancer vaccine Stimuvax, trying to start off fresh by renaming it tecemotide and pointing it toward a subpopulation of non-small cell lung cancer patients which appeared to respond in its very big failed Phase III. Today, the program is--once again--officially terminated.
Yesterday, Seattle-based VentiRx Pharmaceuticals put out the word that it had raised a new round of cash to back an ongoing mid-stage study of motolimod (VTX-2337), its TLR8 cancer vaccine, adding that the biotech had won fast-track status for the program. And today the company is following up with the news that it's partnering with the Ludwig Cancer Research and the Cancer Research Institute on a new immuno-oncology combo development effort with AstraZeneca's hot checkpoint inhibitor MEDI-4736.
Almost exactly one year after Daniel O'Connor was named CEO at Advaxis, he celebrated the personal milestone with the latest in a string of deals. Pharma giant Merck stepped up with a no-strings-attached immuno-oncology development pact for pembrolizumab, one of the hot new checkpoint inhibitors promising a groundbreaking new approach to treating a wide variety of cancers.
Back in 2012, researchers flagged some positive results for patient subgroups in a flunked trial of Merck KGaA's cancer vaccine. But now, the vaccine has hit another snag, failing to hit its primary endpoint--as well as three secondary endpoints--in a Japanese trial, partner Oncothyreon said Monday in an SEC filing.
Though the cancer vaccine field has seen more setbacks than successes, some companies are forging ahead with ambitious plans to push their therapeutics toward regulatory approval.
After scooping up an initial €12 million in October and a partnering pact with Roche in November, Germany's immatics has received an additional €22 million ($29.8 million) to wrap up a Series D financing round.
Agenus' vaccine for a deadly form of brain cancer helped extend patients' lives in a single-arm study, the company said, news that sent its shares up as much as 20% on hopes it can find a partner to help it into Phase III.
CHICAGO--Amgen's big Phase III effort on the viral cancer vaccine talimogene laherparepvec may have fallen just shy of hitting the mark for a key metric on overall survival, but after hitting the primary goal on durable response rates for patients with melanoma, the big biotech says it plans to move ahead and seek an approval to start selling the treatment. And investigators here at ASCO have also begun to add some new data to back up its potential as a combination cancer therapy.
Johnson & Johnson's busy deal team in California has nailed down another development pact--this time zeroing in on new technology at a Berkeley biotech that will be used to expand its considerable efforts on prostate cancer R&D.