AstraZeneca drops an OX40 cancer drug candidate in Q4 pipeline cleanup

Q4 may have been a triumph in many respects, as AstraZeneca’s cancer drugs continue to carve out a bigger franchise for the company — crucial for its future. But there were also some big setbacks as the R&D group continues to hit and miss with its trials. 

The biggest pipeline setbacks came with the failure of Imfinzi and tremelimumab in two combo studies aimed at lung and head and neck cancer, which we reported earlier.

But that wasn’t the only cleanup that was required for the last quarter.

Pascal Soriot

The early stage cancer drug pipeline took several hits as well. The company noted on its slide on pipeline changes that their Phase I work combining Imfinzi with tremelimimab or danvatirsen (STAT3) for diffuse large B cell lymphoma was dumped. And MEDI0562 was dropped, ending a Phase I combo study with Imfinzi for the OX40 candidate for solid tumors and a separate study combining their drug with the CTLA-4 drug tremelimumab.

You can expect lots more questions on this, as OX40 is a pathway that’s being pursued by a group of rivals.

MEDI9197, a TLR 7/8 agonist for solid tumors, also was swept away, taking out a Phase I combo study using Imfinzi. MEDI1873 is also gone. That drug is a GITR agonist fusion protein.

On the upside AstraZeneca moved 4 programs into Phase II. That includes 2 Imfinzi combos — with oleclumab and monalizumab — as well as AZD4831 and MEDI7352.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot bet big on pursuing a combination strategy for I/O in an effort to leapfrog the leaders in the field, but he’s had to rely primarily on monotherapy successes using its PD-L1 drug Imfinzi, so far.

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