Advaxis, Merck & Co. Collaborate on Prostate Cancer Combination DrugBy
Advaxis Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cancer immunotherapies, has entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement with Merck & Co. to evaluate the combination of Advaxis’s Lm-LLO cancer immunotherapy, ADXS-PSA, with Merck’s investigational anti PD-1 antibody, pembrolizumab. The planned clinical trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of ADXS-PSA as monotherapy and in combination with pembrolizumab in a Phase I/II study of patients with previously treated metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Both ADXS-PSA and pembrolizumab are investigational members of a new class of cancer treatments known as immunotherapies that are designed to enhance the body’s own defenses in fighting cancer. Preclinical evidence suggests that Advaxis Lm-LLO immunotherapies in combination with a PD-1 inhibitor may lead to an enhanced anti-tumor immune response.
Under the agreement, Advaxis and Merck will collaborate to evaluate the ADXS-PSA/pembrolizumab combination as a treatment for prostate cancer. The Phase I part of the trial is designed to establish a recommended dose regimen for ADXS-PSA alone and combined with pembrolizumab, and the Phase II portion will assess the safety and efficacy of the combination. Advaxis will sponsor and fund the study, and Merck will provide pembrolizumab. The companies will collaboratively oversee the conduct of the study, which is planned to begin in early 2015. Results from the study will be used to determine the path for further clinical development of the combination.
ADXS-PSA is an Lm-LLO immunotherapy that is designed to target the PSA antigen associated with prostate cancer. Pembrolizumab is an investigational, humanized, monoclonal antibody against PD-1 designed to reactivate anti-tumor immunity. Pembrolizumab exerts dual ligand blockade of the PD-1 pathway by inhibiting the interaction of PD-1 on T cells with its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2. Pembrolizumab is currently being evaluated across more than 30 types of cancers as a monotherapy and in combination with other drugs.