Setbacks, Vaccines

Aduro buries another cancer vaccine after CRS-207 joins the lineup of clinical disasters

After sticking it out through a partial hold and earlier clinical trial setbacks, Aduro $ADRO is finally washing its hands of a cancer vaccine that represented its most advanced clinical program.

About 18 months after a combination of GVAX and CRS-207 missed the mark on pancreatic cancer, compared to chemo, the Berkeley, CA-based biotech is throwing in the trial on CRS-207, which the biotech had held on to in order to pursue some clinical evidence of efficacy.

Stephen Isaacs

The executive team says they looked over the data from its mesothelioma and ovarian studies and decided to halt all three of its development programs for the vaccine.

CRS-207 is made up of attenuated (deactivated) Listeria monocytogenes that express mesothelin, sparking an immune response to a protein concentrated on pancreatic cancer cells. Issues with Listeria triggered the partial hold, which was later lifted by regulators.

This is just the latest in a long line of failures by a cancer vaccine. While some next-gen efforts promise to do better, or will try to, the first generation proved too weak to have any kind of significant impact on cancer progression. Now the focus has shifted to neoantigens and other I/O strategies. And Aduro has been doing some rethinking as well.

CEO Stephen Isaacs had this to say:

We will shift our focus and investment toward our STING agonist program, B-select antibodies and personalized neoantigen approach with pLADD. In our STING program in particular, there are several additional clinical trials under consideration to complement our ongoing Phase 1 dose escalation trial of ADU-S100 as well as our combination study with Novartis’ PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, PDR-001. As a result of our portfolio decisions, we expect our current cash balance to be sufficient to fund planned activities for the next three years through 2020.


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