Array Biopharma ties up with Pfizer on cancer-fighting combos

Array Biopharma and Pfizer have struck a clinical trial collaboration to study several cancer-targeting combos, which will include the former's MEK inhibitor and a PARP inhibitor and anti PD-L1 med from the latter. 

Under the agreement, the pair will work on a phase 1b trial to look into a number of new combos of Array's MEK inhibitor binimetinib and Pfizer's PARP inhibitor talazoparib alongside it and partner German Merck's PD-L1 Bavencio (avelumab), according to a statement. Pfizer will sponsor and bankroll the trial and Array will supply the binimetinib. 

The study is slated to kick off by the third quarter of 2018, Array said. A multi-arm trial to determine the best dosing is expected to follow. 

While the partners are starting non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, they will investigate using the combos in other types of cancer later on. 

"Preclinical data indicate that combining binimetinib with an immune checkpoint inhibitor and talazoparib could be a rational combination to test in the clinic," said Chris Boshoff, M.D., senior vice president and head of immuno-oncology, early development and translational oncology at Pfizer Global Product Development. 

"We are looking forward to initiating the clinical studies with Array BioPharma to explore anti-tumor activity across various novel combination strategies, including both doublet and triplet approaches." 

Talazoparib's original developer, BioMarin, sold it off in 2015 and the immuno-onology drug made its way to Pfizer in the Big Pharma's $14 billion acquisition of Medivation in August last year. And it's already showing promise—earlier this month, talazoparib improved progression-free survival over chemo in a phase 3 trial involving patients with germline (inherited) BRCA1/2-positive (gBRCA+) locally advanced and/or metastatic breast cancer. 

Array hasn't quite been as lucky—in March, the biotech had to pull its NDA for binimetinib because phase 3 data in the rare skin cancer NRAS-mutant melanoma did not make the grade with the FDA. At the time, Array made assurances that its other trials would continue and that yanking the application would not affect a study pitting a binimetinib-encorafenib combo against a different melanoma mutation.