Ganitumab - Biotech's 5 key attacks on pancreatic cancer

Drug: Ganitumab (AMG 479)
Company: Amgen, Takeda
Phase: Phase III
Type: Monoclonal antibody

Scoop: Amgen's late-stage pancreatic drug candidate ganitumab (AMG 479) is a monoclonal antibody designed to block a chemical signal that allows tumors to grow unchecked. The drug targets type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R), which is vital to the regulation of cell growth and survival. Amgen researchers hope that by suppressing IGF-1R they can slow the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors and increase overall survival in patients.

In a mid-stage study, patients who received AMG 479 in addition to standard pancreatic cancer therapy gemcitabine had an overall survival rate of 57% after 6 months, compared to 50% with gemcitabine alone. Seeking Alpha notes that patients in the AMG 479 arm of the study had a median overall survival rate of 8.7 months, compared to just 5.9 months on the standard therapy. Amgen initiated a Phase III study of ganitumab earlier this year. Results of the 825-patient study are due in October 2013. The drug is also in earlier stages of testing for a variety of other cancers.

"We know that insulin-like growth factors play a role in cancer development, particularly in mediating cell survival," Amgen principal scientist Pedro Beltran said in a 2009 release. "This is the first drug that specifically targets the receptor for these growth factors without cross-reacting with the closely related insulin receptor."

Amgen is partnered with Japan's Takeda on development of the drug. In 2008 the two developers inked a deal which gave Takeda exclusive rights to develop and commercialize up to 12 of Amgen's clinical stage molecules for the Japanese market; AMG 479 was included in that deal.

Ganitumab - Biotech's 5 key attacks on pancreatic cancer
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