Immuno-oncology, Results

Roche’s IMpower133 offers a glimpse at rare progress in fight against small cell lung cancer

Last summer Roche’s big R&D group at Genentech heralded a breakthrough with positive survival and disease progression data for its frontline study of its checkpoint contender Tecentriq in small cell lung cancer — with landmark results for a field that had long stymied investigators.

Today, the pharma giant spelled out its specific gains from IMpower133, setting a mark at the World Conference on Lung Cancer that others can start to shoot at.

Sandra Horning

The key metrics: Tecentriq plus chemo hit a median overall survival rate of 12.3 months, compared to 10.3 months for chemo alone — a significant 30% drop in the risk of death. The PFS hit 5.2 months versus 4.3 months with a hazard ration of a more modest 0.77. That’s not phenomenal, but it’s an improvement in a niche not known for improvements.

Now it’s time to roll it out in world markets.

“The results with this Tecentriq combination in the initial treatment of extensive-stage small cell lung cancer represent the first clinically meaningful advance in the disease in over 20 years,” said Sandra Horning, the CMO at Roche. “Our goal is to find treatment options for all types of lung cancer, and we are eager to work with global health authorities to bring this Tecentriq regimen to people living with this particularly difficult-to-treat form of lung cancer as soon as possible.”

The win here is crucial for Roche, which is playing catch-up with checkpoint leaders Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck. And not all that effectively. The pharma giant needs to get out well ahead of the competition in key areas if they expect to hold on to their third-ranked position in the market, as AstraZeneca moves ahead with its advantage in one important niche of non-small cell lung cancer.

Roche has had its problems in the checkpoint field. Just days ago the FDA made the move to hold up a decision on its application for its combo using Tecentriq and Avastin plus chemo in frontline lung cancer cases. And that’s a rare delay at the go-go agency.

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

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