AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, announced that it will acquire Stemcentrx and its lead late-stage asset rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) currently in registrational trials for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
Rova-T is a novel biomarker-specific therapy that is derived from cancer stem cells and targets delta-like protein 3 (DLL3) that is expressed in more than 80 percent of SCLC patient tumors and is not present in healthy tissue. Registrational trials for third-line small cell lung cancer are expected to complete enrollment by the end of 2016.
“AbbVie is committed to continued innovation in oncology, a critical component of our long-term growth and an area of significant need to millions of patients worldwide,” said Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and chief executive officer, AbbVie. “The addition of Stemcentrx and its late-stage compound Rova-T provide AbbVie with a unique platform in solid tumor therapeutics and complement our leadership position in hematologic oncology. We believe the acquisition of Stemcentrx will strengthen and accelerate our ability to deliver innovative therapies that will have a remarkable impact on patients’ lives.”
In Phase 1/2 studies of relapsed SCLC patients who have previously failed one or more standard therapies, Rova-T demonstrated overall response rates of 44 percent in the patients identified with high expression of DLL3. The expression of DLL3 suggests Rova-T also may be useful across multiple tumor types, including metastatic melanoma, glioblastoma multiforme, prostate, pancreatic and colorectal cancers, where DLL3 expression ranges from 50-80 percent. Rova-T combines a targeted antibody that delivers a cytotoxic agent directly to the DLL3-expressing cancer cells while minimizing toxicity to healthy cells.
Rova-T is under investigation as a third-line treatment in SCLC, where there is no currently approved therapy. Rova-T also has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Breakthrough Therapy designation. Additional data on Rova-T, including overall survival data, will be presented at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting in June 2016. Rova-T was recently selected to be included in the Best of ASCO Program, which presents scientific and educational highlights from the meeting. Approximately one percent of all data abstracts are selected for this program. Studies designed to select a Rova-T regimen for first-line registration will be starting soon.
“Rova-T is the first predictive biomarker-based therapy associated with drug efficacy in small cell lung cancer, and that is a big deal for this difficult disease,” said Charles Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., chief, thoracic oncology service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Beyond Rova-T, Stemcentrx has four novel compounds in clinical trials across several solid tumor indications including triple-negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Stemcentrx has additional pre-clinical compounds advancing toward clinical trials in 2016 and a proprietary technology platform that leverages stem cell biology to identify and screen potential targets against live tumor tissue to more predictably advance discovery and development of new assets.
“We are thrilled to be joining the AbbVie team and believe that, together, we can bring much-needed therapies to cancer patients,” said Brian Slingerland, founder and chief executive officer, Stemcentrx. “We have worked for eight years exploring the origins of cancer and drivers of its recurrence and have discovered novel therapeutic targets to attack the most difficult-to-treat tumors. AbbVie, with its long-term commitment and expertise in drug development, will help us turn our scientific discoveries into a mainstay of cancer treatments.”
AbbVie’s clinical oncology pipeline is comprised of more than a dozen assets, with 5 programs in late-stage development, spanning nearly 200 clinical trials across more than 19 types of tumors. AbbVie currently markets Imbruvica®, a BTK-inhibitor approved to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), mantle cell lymphoma and Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, and VenclextaTM, a BCL-2 inhibitor approved to treat CLL in patients with 17p deletion.
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