Micromet drug shows promise against severe blood cancer

While there's a way to go in proving the mettle of the drug, Micromet's experimental antibody blinatumomab wiped out cancer cells in nine of 12 patients with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in an ongoing Phase II study.

The complete remission shown in 75 percent of patients should give the Rockville, Maryland-based company ($MITI) some momentum as it enrolls up to 25 patients in the mid-stage study. It's also a bit of validation for its antibody drug technology, which is designed to spur the immune system's soldier T cells into action against cancer. The technology had taken a hit in 2009 when AstraZeneca gave up North American rights to blinatumomab, Micromet's most advanced of those antibody drugs, Reuters reports.

The study involves ALL patients who have previously relapsed after undergoing standard chemotherapy. Although this is a rare form of cancer, no new drug for such patients has been approved in the past 30 years, and the average five-year survival rate of patients after their first relapse is a dismal 7 percent, according to Micromet.

"These results are particularly striking relative to the fact that the majority of enrolled patients had characteristics typically associated with a dismal outlook," said Max Topp, a study leader from the University of Wuerzberg.

- here's the Micromet release
- check out the Reuters report