After mega-round investment, ADC Therapeutics cans PhI trial in HER2

After raising a $200 million mega-round just months ago, Swiss drugmaker ADC Therapeutics is axing one of its programs due to toxicity issues.

Jay Feingold

The cut drug program, called ADCT-502, is one of the company’s several antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) candidates in development for solid and blood cancers. The 502 drug was being tested in a Phase I trial with patients who have HER2-positive cancers. But as the company’s CMO Jay Feingold explains it, the HER-2 targeted ADC wasn’t working well enough in low doses, which is a problem considering the side effects.

“Pyrrolobenzodiazepine dimers are extremely potent and have a well characterized safety profile that includes fluid retention and pulmonary edema. For most PBD ADCs this can be managed by selecting dosing regimens that are efficacious with manageable toxicities. However, during dose escalation in this trial we did not achieve the necessary efficacy at tolerated doses required for patient benefit.”

ADC Therapeutics’ CEO Chris Martin also noted that HER2 perhaps wasn’t the best target for the company.

Chris Martin

“Patients with HER2 expressing tumors have multiple therapeutic options including novel therapies in clinical development that are producing encouraging data. ADC Therapeutic’s strategy is to progress a deep pipeline of ADCs into Phase I in order to assess their clinical and market potential based on actual human data, and only to progress into later stage development those ADCs that demonstrate the potential to be best in class in areas of high unmet medical need.”

The company currently has three other ADC programs in the clinic and three more heading to the clinic within the next 9 months, and it’s stressing that 502’s fate won’t impact its other candidates. The company’s two lead programs (402 and 301) saw positive Phase I data reported out in 2016.

That may or may not ease the worries of investors, who’ve backed the 6-year-old company with $455 million in total capital, including a $200 million mega-round reported in October.

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