Boston Biomedical's lead drug fizzles in difficult-to-treat pancreatic cancer
Months after a combination of Celgene’s Abraxane and the chemotherapy gemcitabine stumbled in a pivotal study involving pancreatic cancer patients who had undergone surgical resection, a late-stage study testing Boston Biomedical’s napabucasin in patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma — the most common type of pancreatic cancer — has been discontinued.
Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare but notoriously lethal. It is currently the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States — and is projected to move into the second slot by 2020, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It is a field littered with drug trial failure.
Napabucasin is designed to inhibit multiple pathways involved in cancer cell stemness — self-replicating cells that are able to differentiate into heterogeneous cancer cells and appear to be responsible for the malignant growth, recurrence and resistance to conventional chemotherapies.
In the CanStem111P study, napabucasin was added to Abraxane and gemcitabine and evaluated against Abraxane and gemcitabine alone. The trial was ceased due to futility, as recommended by an independent data and safety monitoring board, the company said on Tuesday.
Boston Biomedical, which is a subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, is also testing napabucasin in a late-stage trial in metastatic colorectal cancer, as well as in earlier-stage studies in solid tumors.
In January, AbbVie $ABBV and partner J&J $JNJ revealed that a late-stage study of Imbruvica combined with a pair of chemo drugs could do no better than the chemo approach alone in pancreatic cancer patients. But the following month, AstraZeneca $AZN and Merck’s $MRK PARP inhibitor Lynparza chalked up a landmark win in a late-stage pancreatic cancer study.
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