AstraZeneca partner Peregrine scraps its R&D game plan in wake of PhIII flop

AstraZeneca HQ
AstraZeneca London HQ

Faced with a Phase III failure for its lead cancer drug, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals is drawing up a new R&D game plan. The company says it is scrapping Phase II and Phase III efforts for bavituximab, retreating to a series of small, early-stage combination studies with immunotherapy drugs.

Bavituximab was ruled a flop back on February when Peregrine announced that a combo of bavituximab and docetaxel had failed a futility analysis comparing it with docetaxel alone. 

Shares of Peregrine ($PPHM) jumped 20% on the do-over as the biotech also trumpeted rising revenue from its contract manufacturing subsidiary.

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Tustin, CA-based Peregrine had garnered some enthusiasm for its drug by touting its potential for improving an immune response against cancer cells. The antibody targets phosphatidylserine (PS), blocking signals that investigators believed prevented immune cells from recognizing a cancer cell and attacking tumors. That profile helped draw in AstraZeneca ($AZN) as a marquee collaborator, pairing its PD-L1 drug durvalumab with bavituximab.

“The company continues to evaluate data from the (failed) SUNRISE trial in order to collect information that can best inform the ongoing clinical development of bavituximab,” the biotech noted in a statement. “As part of these efforts, Peregrine is working closely with AstraZeneca to identify the optimal strategy for the companies’ clinical development collaboration focused on combining bavituximab with AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 inhibitor, durvalumab. It is expected that the initial trial in the collaboration will be a Phase I study evaluating the treatment combination in a range of solid tumors. The expected timing of initiation of any trial will be determined by the continued collection of data from the SUNRISE trial and finalization of the trial design.”

“This strategy will be supported through our current and future collaborations,” said Peregrine CEO Steven King, “which we believe will efficiently generate the clinical data required to identify and pursue the most valuable opportunities for bavituximab.”

- here's the release

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