Imugene's gastric cancer immuno-oncology trial advances to Phase 2

By Meagan Evans. Published at Nov 13, 2018, in Biotech

Clinical stage immuno-oncology company, Imugene Limited (ASX:IMU), today announced preparations are underway to begin the Phase 2 study of its HER-Vaxx cancer vaccine in gastric cancer patients early next year.

Phase 2 follows on from the completion of the Phase 1b lead-in study that tested three doses of HER-Vaxx (IMU-131) in combination with current standard of care chemotherapy (Cisplatin and Fluorouracil or Capecitabine).

Encouragingly, medical researchers observed no safety issues and showed an increase of antibody levels at all dose levels.

HER-Vaxx is designed to produce an antibody response against a cancer growth signal receptor protein called HER2 and found on the cell surface in breast and gastric cancers.

The sequential dose escalation study in three groups of patients was designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, immunology and clinical activity of HER-Vaxx in combination with standard of care chemotherapy and establish the optimal dose for a larger Phase 2 study.

Activities for Phase 2 preparation have already commenced. A new clinical batch of HER-Vaxx has been manufactured, delivered and is waiting in storage for distribution to study sites.

The Phase 2 study will test the efficacy, safety and immune response in 68 gastric cancer patients with metastatic gastric cancer overexpressing the HER-2 protein. The study will be randomised into two arms of either HER-Vaxx plus standard-of-care (chemotherapy) or standard-of-care alone. The primary endpoint is overall survival; secondary endpoint will be progression-free survival.

The Phase 2 trial will be conducted at sites across Asia, Eastern Europe and India where clinicians and patients have difficulty accessing treatments such as Herceptinâ and Perjetaâ marketed by Swiss multinational Roche Holding AG. There is also a high prevalence of gastric cancer in many of these countries.

IMU’s Managing Director and CEO, Leslie Chong, said: “Clinicians at the trial sites observed no vaccine-related toxicities at any of the three doses. We are encouraged by the fact that all vaccinated patients developed increased antibody levels to the HER-2 target protein."

“We look forward to reporting the top-line results before the end of the year and starting the Phase 2 randomised trial early in 2019.”

“Completion of the Phase 1b dose escalating trial and start of the Phase 2 study are important milestones for Imugene, and the many medical professionals seeking treatments for patients with advanced gastric cancer who often have very few medical options," Chong noted.

This latest development comes on the heels of more positive news flow from IMU. Last week, the company revealed it has received a research and development (R&D) tax refund of $1.85 million as part of the Australian government’s R&D tax incentive scheme. This incentive recognises the important immuno-oncology research activities undertaken by IMU during the year.

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