A new CAR-T is credited with a ‘surprising’ impact in tiny study of advanced liver cancer — raising hopes on solid tumors

A tiny study has provided the first glimmer of hope that Eureka Therapeutics’ CAR-T therapy may work in solid tumors.

In a proof-of-concept study involving six patients with hepatocellular carcinoma — the most prevalent form of liver cancer — researchers reported that one patient had a complete response, which was maintained at the seven-month checkup. Two others saw their tumors shrink.

These, the biotech emphasizes, are patients who have failed multiple prior treatments.

“The results were extremely surprising,” Chang Liu, a physician at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and the primary investigator of the study, told Bloomberg. “This is a breakthrough in an area where there was previously no known treatment. To be more dramatic, we can say it’s created a miracle.”

Cheng Liu

Emeryville, CA-based Eureka added that none of the patients experienced cytokine release syndrome or drug-related neurotoxicity — well-known safety concerns that have limited the use of T cell therapies.

Of note, three patients in the study died due to what the company describes as “non-drug-related complications of liver disease.”

The first CAR-Ts on the market from Gilead/Kite and Novartis have demonstrated some amazing results for blood cancers, but solid tumors represent a high hurdle for these new drugs. Clearing it — safely — would open up a major market.

“We are encouraged by the safety profile and the potential efficacy of ET140202 for AFP-positive liver cancer,” said Cheng Liu, Eureka’s president and CEO. “Combining T-cell therapy with a TCR-mimic antibody to target intracellular antigens is a novel approach and can potentially represent a powerful way to treat solid tumors, and in particular, liver cancer, an area of significant unmet medical need.”

The treatment, dubbed ET140202, works by targeting a liver cancer marker called alpha-fetoprotein, or AFP.

In 2019, the company plans to launch a multicenter Phase I trial for ET140202, in the US, where it’s also testing its lead program focused on CD19+ non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The best place to read Endpoints News? In your inbox.

Comprehensive daily news report for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 42,200+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.

Free Subscription

Associate Principal, Life Sciences Partnerships
Flatiron Health New York City or San Francisco
Head of Business Development
Wren Therapeutics Boston, MA
Life Sciences Venture Professional
Northpond Ventures Washington, DC

Visit Endpoints Careers ->