Epizyme nabs combo trial deal with Genentech for NHL candidate


Early this week, Wall Street dinged Epizyme on concerns that Phase II data for its non-Hodgkin lymphoma candidate tazemetostat didn’t live up to the expectations set by prior testing. But now the biotech nabbed a partner in Roche’s Genentech ($ROG) and they are proceeding with a combination trial for the candidate in a subgroup of NHL patients.

The Phase 1b study will pair Genentech’s recently approved anti-PD-L1 cancer immunotherapy, Tecentriq (atezolizumab), with Epizyme’s EZH2 inhibitor, tazemetostat. The combo trial will be in patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), which is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The trial will start enrolling during the second half of this year.

“A key part of Epizyme’s long-term vision is expanding the benefit that tazemetostat can bring to patients, and includes combining tazemetostat with checkpoint inhibitors,” said Epizyme President and CEO Robert Bazemore in a statement.

“We believe this study will be enhanced by our partner’s deep expertise in the field of immuno-oncology. This collaboration aligns us with a global leader in oncology and hematology, and advances Epizyme’s leadership position in the development of epigenetic therapeutics,” he added.

Under the deal, Genentech will manage study operations. Tecentriq is the first FDA-approved anti-PD-L1 cancer immunotherapy; it was approved by the agency in May to treat a specific type of advanced bladder cancer. For its part, tazemetostat is in ongoing Phase II testing in NHL patients as well as in two clinical trials for patients with genetically defined solid tumors.

“The goal of this collaboration is to generate clinical proof-of-concept for the combination, building on tazemetostat’s activity as a monotherapy in a Phase 1 study of NHL and preclinical observations that EZH2 inhibition may have a priming effect on the immune system and improve the activity of checkpoint inhibitors,” said Epizyme CMO Dr. Peter Ho.

Financial details of the deal were undisclosed.

- here is the release

Related Article:
Celgene recommits to Epizyme, adding $620M in cancer drug bonuses