Mateon cuts cancer combo test, costs as it refocuses efforts

Mateon will now focus its efforts on another program in certain blood cancers.

Micro cap biotech Mateon will immediately end a cancer combo with Roche’s aging Avastin in ovarian cancer as poor results influence a shift in focus away from its once-leading medication.

The California-based biotech said it will stop work on its leading midstage experimental cancer med CA4P (fosbretabulin) after weak results from the phase 2/3 Focus trial, in tandem with Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab) and chemo, in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

“Due to the lack of a meaningful improvement in progression-free survival, combined with the unfavorable partial response data, the company does not believe that continuation of the study is appropriate,” the biotech said in a statement. “Therefore, Mateon is immediately terminating the Focus study and further development of CA4P.”

The company had also been exploring the medication’s potential use in other tumor types, such as neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), hepatocellular carcinoma and gastric cancer.

It works by targeting tumor blood vessels, ultimately depriving tumors of oxygen and essential nutrients, leading to the death of interior tumor cells but sparing some cells on the outer rim of the tumor. It was believed to be a strong combo candidate for anti-VEGF meds such as Avastin.

“We are clearly disappointed that CA4P did not show a clinically meaningful benefit when it was added to the current standard of care in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer,” said William D. Schwieterman, M.D., president and CEO.

“I want to thank our investigators and advisors, as well as the patients that we treated, for their efforts to advance future cancer care. These external participants, along with our internal team, did a great job planning and executing the study, but the outcome is clear, and unfortunately negative.”

Given the failure and what the company admits are its “limited resources,” the biotech is making severe cuts, removing 60% of its works since the beginning of the year, and with the remaining set of its senior management team taking a 50% cut in salary, effective immediately.

The biotech will now focus on an earlier stage med, OXi4503, for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Schwieterman added: “With the company’s needs now very different, it is disheartening to terminate most of these employees following their solid work performances.

“Going forward, our immediate focus is to obtain value from our OXi4503 program in AML, which, within the last two months, has shown clear positive clinical outcomes in relapsed/refractory patients. As always, we are exploring all options for additional fundraising and adding value for our stockholders, which includes continuing to look for buyers for any or all of our assets.”