AstraZeneca drops Amgen-partnered solid tumor drug

CG image of AstraZeneca's HQ
AstraZeneca has stopped development of Amgen-partnered bispecific T-cell engager MEDI-565. (AstraZeneca)

AstraZeneca has dropped Amgen-partnered bispecific T-cell engager MEDI-565 from its clinical-phase pipeline. The CEA-CD3 candidate was pitched as a treatment for colorectal cancer but looks to have come unstuck in early-phase trials. 

MedImmune moved the prospect into phase 1 in 2011 in partnership with its originator, Micromet. Amgen bought Micromet the following year, going on to initiate its own phase 1 clinical trial of the drug—also known as AMG 211—in 2014. That study wrapped up around the start of the year. 

Amgen is yet to publish data from its trial, but some results from earlier studies are available. In a study of 39 patients with colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas, AstraZeneca saw no objective responses. Eleven patients had stable disease. Those results emerged after Amgen started its phase 1 trial.

Whatever Amgen found in its study was insufficient to stop AstraZeneca from including MEDI-565 in a quarterly cull (PDF) of pipeline prospects. 

The cull also hit MEDI9314, an IL-4R monoclonal antibody in development as a treatment for atopic dermatitis. AstraZeneca moved the drug into a phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers in 2016. Eleven months after finishing the study, AstraZeneca has dropped the drug.

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Four of the other drugs to disappear from AstraZeneca’s pipeline are listed as divestitures. One of the drugs, inebilizumab, was the centerpiece of the autoimmune portfolio AstraZeneca spun out to create Viela Bio. Two of the other assets weren’t named in the statement about Viela’s creation but look to have been part of the deal. AstraZeneca shed an anti-CD40L-Tn3 fusion protein and an IL-T7 monoclonal antibody from its pipeline around the same time as drugs with the same targets showed up at Viela.

The fourth divested asset may also be at Viela, but it is unclear from the startup’s pipeline. Like the other three assets, mavrilimumab is an autoimmune candidate listed by AstraZeneca as divested. But no asset in Viela’s pipeline corresponds to the target of mavrilimumab, GM-CSF. Viela is yet to reveal the targets of two research-stage programs. Mavrilimumab advanced to phase 2 at AstraZeneca.