Incyte up as it posts positive data set for PhI melanoma combo trial

Data published today by Incyte at the ESMO European cancer conference showed its experimental IDO1 enzyme inhibitor epacadostat, when combined with Merck’s marketed checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda, could help certain skin cancer patients--but has yet to reach median progression-free survival.

The updated data from its small Phase I ECHO-202 trial--which is also looking at other solid tumors--came from the melanoma portion of the study and looked at 19 patients who had not yet been treated for the disease.

Across this population, the combo treatment produced progression-free survival (PFS) rates of 74% and 57% at 6 months and 12 months, respectively. The biotech said that the median PFS had not yet been reached.

But the biotech was positive about its latest figures. Steven Stein, CMO and EVP at Incyte, said in a call this morning, “for illustrative purposes, with all the caveats across trial comparisons and the fact that our median PFS is not being reached, our data compares favorably to the established benchmarks of immunotherapy monotherapy PD-1 and for monotherapy PD-1 and for PD-1 plus CTLA forward therapy.”

The updated data also show an increase in the complete response (CR) rate to 26% while the objective response rate (ORR) and disease control rate (DCR) “remained consistent with the previously published abstract data”--at 58% and 74% respectively. More long-term data are set to be released in the future.

In the investor call the company said: “The Phase I ECHO-202 data can be summarized by saying that epacadostat plus pembrolizumab remains well tolerated, and has shown durable clinical activity in first-line melanoma with the competitive response rate and PFS are yet to reached with significant follow-up. We have a commercial footprint already in place in the U.S. and Europe and we look forward to the result of the ongoing Phase III ECHO-301 file.”

The ECHO-301 test, as a first-line treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic melanoma, is currently under way--with initial data expected from 2018.

The biotech was up by more than 3% pre-market on the news with a market cap of more than $17.6 billion.