VBL Therapeutics sees Avastin-VB-111 phase 3 combo flop in brain cancer

3D brain against purple background
(Image: alex-mit / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Israeli biotech VBL Therapeutics has joined a long and depressing line of companies that have failed to move the needle in a test against a form of aggressive brain tumor.

The Tel Aviv-based company gave a snapshot look for its pivotal phase 3 ‘Globe’ study in patients with recurrent glioblastoma (rGBM), a tough-to-treat and deadly form of brain cancer.

The news wasn’t good: When it combined its experimental VB-111 (designed to kill cells involved in blood vessel formation) in combo with Roche’s ageing blockbuster Avastin (bevacizumab), the two together failed to beat out Avastin on its own, missing the primary endpoint of boosting overall survival (OS).

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Dror Harats, M.D., CEO of VBL said in a brief update: “We are disappointed that our encouraging phase 2 data were not replicated in the Globe phase 3 study, and once we receive the full and final data we will be analyzing them carefully to better understand the outcome of the study.

“We are grateful to the trial investigators, site personnel, patients and caregivers who participated in Globe. We believe that VB-111 may still hold promise for other indications we currently or may study in the future.”

Other indications include thyroid cancer: Just over a year ago, VBL posted some detailed and broadly positive midstage data in this area, and also has a late-stage ovarian cancer test underway.

Success in the study of glioblastoma would have added much-needed luster to VBL after a period in which it has suffered setbacks.

The Israeli company undid its original Nasdaq IPO in 2014 after a shareholder failed to pay for stock they agreed to buy. Once VBL got onto Nasdaq at the second attempt, it reported phase 2 trials of VB-201 in psoriasis and ulcerative colitis missed their primary endpoints, triggering a collapse in its stock price.

This morning, it had a market cap of around $200 million, as its shares were down by more than 60%.