VBL and its 'gene therapy' cancer treatment are back — with a peek at PhIII potential
Three years after a brain cancer failure sent the company reeling, VBL Therapeutics is touting its first hint of positive Phase III results.
The Israeli biotech announced its lead drug, VB–111, met an interim efficacy benchmark in a trial testing it against standard-of-care alone in recurrent, chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer. The patients in the treatment arm had a CA-125 response rate — a measure of cancer antigen often used as a proxy in ovarian cancer studies and in detecting ovarian cancer — at least 10% higher than those in the control, the independent review determined.
The response rate in the first 60 enrolled and evaluable patients was 53%. That indicated a treatment response rate of at least 58% — an encouraging number, the company said, because of the CA-125 data from their earlier Phase II trial.
“We are very pleased by the outcome of this interim analysis, which demonstrates the potential benefit of VB-111 over standard-of-care in a randomized-controlled study,” VBL CEO Dror Harats said. “The OVAL Phase 3 interim data are at least as good as the CA-125 response results observed in our VB-111 Phase 2 study.”
In that earlier study, which indicated a dose-dependent response, patients who showed a CA-125 response ultimately had an overall survival rate of 808 days, versus 351 days for those who did not. The primary endpoint for this study, which is set to be completed in 2022, is overall survival.
The data come two years after VBL announced the combo of VB-111 and Avastin had failed to beat out Avastin alone in a Phase III study of glioblastoma, a notoriously hard-to-treat indication. It was their first Phase III trial after a smattering of Phase II trials in different solid tumors had turned up mixed results.
VB-111 is what the company deems a “gene therapy agent.” It uses an adenovirus — the viral vector traditionally used for gene therapy — that carries a gene to cause explosive cell death in tumors, rupturing blood cells. They have anti-inflammatory and other cancer programs in development.