GSK offers encouraging data on BCMA-targeting armed antibody, setting stage for a return to late-stage cancer studies

GlaxoSmithKline $GSK is beginning to turn the cards it holds on an anti-BCMA antibody drug conjugate, GSK2857916, its lead effort in what is being styled as an ambitious new effort to build an oncology portfolio in the wake of its 3-year-old deal to swap assets with Novartis.

In a Phase I/II study for multiple myeloma, the conjugate triggered a 60% response rate with a 7.9 month PFS rate among 35 heavily pre-treated patients. Corneal events and thrombocytopenia were common side effects in the data, reported at Atlanta’s ASH confab.

Axel Hoos

That won’t turn many heads after bluebird $BLUE and Celgene $CELG wowed the crowd at ASH with its CAR-T bb2121, and its stunning 56% complete response rate with an ORR of 94%. BCMA is drawing the attention of everyone in CAR-T as the pioneers move on to the next most promising target in blood cancers.

Their drug linker tech — matching a BCMA antibody with a powerful cytotoxic — was brought in from Seattle Genetics.

GSK traded out its late-stage cancer pipeline and a portfolio of drugs to Novartis in exchange for some vaccines. The pharma giant, though, was left with an early-stage effort that concentrated on this drug as the lead drug, and they were rewarded recently with a breakthrough drug designation — a rare feat for a Big Pharma group that has little to boast about in pharma R&D.

It’s good enough for GSK to move on with plans for a launch of near-term pivotal studies. Says oncology senior vice president Axel Hoos:

The patients participating in the DREAMM-1 trial had very limited options for further treatment, so we are encouraged by the response rate seen in this trial.  GSK2857916 is the leading asset in our emerging pipeline of potentially transformative Oncology medicines and we plan to rapidly progress its development programme, initiating pivotal monotherapy studies as well as new combination studies in 2018.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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