4SC spotlights partnership talks after liver cancer combo extends survival

The German biotech 4SC AG says its experimental drug resminostat extended overall survival among advanced liver cancer patients by 8 months in Phase II when combined with Bayer's Nexavar. And the CEO quickly boasted that the company is engaged in partnership talks with several unnamed companies, suggesting that Bayer would be a likely candidate for a collaboration.

On its own, patients taking resminostat--an HDAC inhibitor--registered an unimpressive 4.1-month OS time, which was doubled in the combination arm. In Bayer's own SHARP study of Nexavar, 4SC added, advanced liver cancer patients achieved a median OS time of 5.2 months, making their combo a better potential option--if it could be proven in late-stage studies. There was a median progression-free survival time of 4.7 months in the combination arm, more than twice the rate for resminostat alone.

Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Dauer didn't actually come out and tell Bloomberg the company is in talks with Bayer, but he asserted that that would be a logical expectation, given his company's focus on the combo data. 

"Bayer decidedly has an interest in liver cancer," Dauer said, according to the business news service. "It would be negligent not to talk to them." 4SC's shares jumped about 5% on the data.   

The German biotech experienced a bitter setback in mid-2011 when its oral RA treatment flunked a mid-stage study. At the time Dauer vowed to push ahead with the program for other autoimmune disease. A number of biotechs are working on HDAC inhibitors, including Curis and Acetylon.

- here's the press release
- get the Bloomberg report