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BMS' Yervoy fails prostate cancer trial

Unable to improve overall survival in phase III

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) buildingBristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has published disappointing data from a phase III trial investigating its oncology drug Yervoy in the treatment of prostate cancer.

According to the pharma company, Yervoy (ipilimumab) failed to reach its primary endpoint of significant improvement in overall survival compared to placebo in patients with advanced metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) who have received prior treatment with docetaxel.

However, BMS said it hadn't given up completely on its hopes for Yervoy in prostate cancer, claiming the monoclonal antibody showed anti-tumour activity in the condition and demonstrated progression free-survival.

“While we are disappointed that the primary endpoint of overall survival was not met, we remain encouraged that results in this advanced population support the potential role of immunotherapies for prostate cancer,” said Brian Daniels, senior VP, global development and medical affairs.

“We are committed to continuing our development of Yervoy in prostate cancer,” he added.

This includes a trial investigating the use of Yervoy in patients with mCRPC who have not received prior cytotoxic treatment, while BMS is also conducting phase III studies of the drug in adjuvant melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Yervoy is currently available as a treatment for advanced forms of the skin cancer melanoma, posting sales of $706m in 2012.

The drug's success in the indication has played its part in inspiring pharma industry faith in cancer immunotherapies, which stimulate the body's own immune system to fight the disease.

This includes Bayer's deal with Compugen to work together in the preclinical stage to investigate potential antibody-based immunotherapies against two undisclosed targets.

The latest trial results in mCRPC will be a blow for the field, however, especially as it follows disappointing study results cancer immunotherapies from GlaxoSmithKline, Vical and Merck KGaA.

This article has been amended to note that it is Bayer, rather than BMS, which has a deal with Compugen 

Article by
Thomas Meek

13th September 2013

From: Research

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