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Iovance up on good ASCO abstract data for cervical cancer therapy

Shares leap almost 20% after abstracts released

Iovance

The annual publication of abstracts from the ASCO cancer meeting in the US has done its usual job of moving share prices, and a big gainer was Iovance Biotherapeutics which climbed on data for its cancer immunotherapies.

Iovance – formerly known as Lion Biotechnologies – is preparing to report results from a phase 2 trial of its tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy LN-145, which was awarded fast-track status from the FDA in February.

The headline news is data from the cervical cancer trial of LN-145, which revealed an overall response rate (ORR) of 44% in recurrent cervical cancer, with 89% of patients showing signs that the therapy was keeping the disease from getting worse.

That compares very well with results seen with Merck & Co’s PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in recurrent cervical cancer, where studies indicated an ORR of around 14%, while for chemotherapy rates are even lower at around 4%. It’s also notable that patients in trial had previously been treated with two to three prior lines of therapy so had a poor prognosis.

Shares in California-based Iovance leaped almost 20% in pre-market trading after the abstracts dropped.

Iovance’s approach to immunotherapy was pioneered by Steven Rosenberg of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI). It involves extracting TILs from patients, expanding them into a population of billions of cells, and stimulating them with interleukin-2 (IL-2) in the lab to be more aggressive to tumour cells.

Once sufficient numbers have been cultured, they are administered back to the patient, in the hope of mounting an immune response that will destroy the malignant cells. It’s an approach that has also shown promise in other cancers, including melanoma where Iovance has previously reported phase 2 data showing an ORR of 56% and complete response rates of 24%.

Follow-up data in melanoma with Iovance’s TIL candidate lifileucel, will also be presented at ASCO when the five-day conference kicks off on 31 May. That study shows that the TIL can be given after checkpoint inhibitors such as Keytruda have failed, with an ORR of 38%.

According to the ASCO abstract, as of February, 27 recurrent cervical cancer patients had been enrolled onto Iovance’s trial and – after a median follow-up of 3.5 months – one patient had a complete response, nine had a partial response and two more had partial responses that hadn’t been confirmed at the data cut-off.

Adverse event shave proved tricky to manage with other forms of cell-based cancer immunotherapy such as CAR-T, but in this case Iovance said side effects “resolved to baseline” within two weeks of the therapy being administered.

Article by
Phil Taylor

16th May 2019

From: Research

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