ASCO: Roche punts taselisib after weak data, severe side effects

Roche’s experimental PI3K hopeful taselisib is to be ditched after coming up short at this year’s ASCO cancer conference.

The ability of taselisib to help certain, advanced breast cancer patients was, according to José Baselga, the study’s lead investigator from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York: “More modest than we had hoped for, and there is a risk of considerable side effects.”

Roche said it would now “not be pursuing an FDA submission for taselisib based on the data presented at ASCO.”

This will be of little surprise to close viewers of the PI3K class, given the safety issues that have long dogged Gilead’s blood cancer drug Zydelig (idelalisib), and AbbVie’s decision back in 2016 to scrap its collab with Infinity’s lead blood cancer candidate duvelisib, also a PI3K, after a set of poor trial results.

RELATED: ASCO: Merck shows Roche up with big survival numbers in squamous lung cancer

This compounded another blow for the Swiss cancer major, as Merck one-upped its rival in squamous lung cancer by showing a larger benefit, as well as overall survival data that Roche’s Tecentriq-chemo combo doesn’t yet have.