GSK culls oncology hopeful, officially tosses out failed HIV vax

GSK CSO Hal Barron
GSK Chief Scientific Officer Hal Barron (GlaxoSmithKline)

As GlaxoSmithKline announced it is splitting in two (with a consumer healthcare unit to become standalone), the British Big Pharma says its priority at GSK 2.0 will be R&D.

But, as ever, its financials (PDF) this morning brought with them a fourth-quarter clear-out, with a cancer drug and a failed HIV vaccine attempt being thrown onto the waste heap.

The oncology therapy was GSK2636771, a PI3Kb inhibitor, and was “terminated as part of ongoing portfolio prioritisation.”

It had been in an early- to midstage trial for advanced solid tumors in patients with phosphatase and tensin homolog deficiency, but no data have been released. GSK did however say that “ongoing investigator sponsored studies will continue” with the drug. does have an open study for GSK2636771 alongside Merck’s PD-1 Keytruda in certain melanoma patients.


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And, just a few days after announcing the failure of its investigational HIV vaccine HVTN 702 for the developing world, GSK was quick to say: "Further development of this vaccine candidate has been discontinued,” which will surprise nobody.

Earlier this week, researchers in South Africa stopped a massive efficacy study of the vaccine after a data monitoring committee found the therapy wasn't working.

The study, which started back in 2016 and tested a combination of vaccine components from GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, enrolled about 5,400 sexually active men and women aged 18 to 35 throughout South Africa.

The participants received either the vaccine or placebo, but, in late January, an independent data monitoring committee found the vaccine wasn't fending off infections, the National Institutes of Health reports.

Finally, the London-based company said that GSK3358699, a targeted BET inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis, “was moved back to research,” but gave no other details. According to, in the last quarter the trial for the med had been put “on hold to allow evaluation and impact of emerging clinical and preclinical data.”