ASCO 2024: Covering Skin Cancer, Bispecific Antibody Treatment, TIGIT-Targeted Drugs, Radiotherapy and More

by Bernice Lottering
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In anticipation of next week’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, conference organizers have released abstracts—snapshots of most of the studies to be presented. The meeting will take place in Chicago from May 31 to June 4. Notable updates from clinical trials have already been highlighted, with the full details to be unveiled during the event. The late-breaking abstracts, often featuring particularly significant trial findings, will be available only on the day the relevant studies are presented. This year, these abstracts include highly anticipated data on Novartis’ leukemia therapy Scemblix, GSK’s multiple myeloma treatment Blenrep, and AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s breast cancer drug Enhertu.

Dual-Target Antibody Drugs Show Potential in Skin Cancer, Bispecific Antibody Combination Therapy for Head and Neck Cancer

Immunocore is advancing a dual-target antibody drug for skin cancer (cutaneous melanoma), with clinical trial results indicating a partial tumor response in four out of 31 evaluated patients (13%) who had received immunotherapy. Including patients with stable disease, the clinical benefit rate (CBR) reached 61%. Although these results were slightly below analysts’ expectations, they are comparable to those from Bristol Myers Squibb’s Odualag trials in a similar patient population. Additionally, Immunocore recently initiated a Phase III trial for its brenetafusp drug.

Merus announced early data from a Phase II trial of its bispecific antibody petosemtamab, combined with Keytruda, for treating head and neck cancer. In a small group of patients with recurrent or metastatic disease, 6 out of 10 evaluable participants achieved tumor shrinkage or disappearance. The response rate met company and investor expectations, matching the approximately 20% response rate of Keytruda monotherapy. Merus shares rose by over one-third on Friday after releasing the ASCO abstract.

Diverse Outcomes in TIGIT-Targeted Drug Combo; Improved Rates with Risk in J&J’s Radiotherapy

Pharmaceutical companies have long sought breakthroughs in developing immune cell protein drugs targeting TIGIT, building on the success of immune checkpoint inhibitors like Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo. However, trial results to date have been mixed. The results of the Phase II trial of Merck’s TIGIT-targeted drug vibostolimab combined with Keytruda revealed varied outcomes across different cancer types. In some endometrial cancer patients, a higher proportion experienced tumor shrinkage or disappearance. However, in patients with advanced melanoma, the rate of tumor shrinkage or disappearance was even higher. In a Phase I/II trial involving a third experimental immunotherapy, quavonlimab, the combination did not meet expectations, leading to the decision to halt patient recruitment for that trial.

Johnson and Johnson continues to develop precise methods for delivering radiopharmaceuticals to tumor sites, with early studies of its potential blockbuster drug JNJ-6420 demonstrating clinically measured results in 46% of male patients who received a specific treatment dose. The indicator improved by 50%, indicating enhanced survival rates. However, 61% of patients experienced serious or medically significant adverse events. The study treated a total of 67 patients with JNJ-6420, resulting in four deaths due to adverse events.

Colorectal Cancer Experimental New Drug Combination Trial

Research findings indicate that an experimental six-drug combination significantly extended survival and slowed tumor growth in patients with previously treated metastatic colorectal cancer. The combination, which includes two drugs developed by Arcus Biosciences—etrumadenant (an adenosine receptor antagonist) and zimberelimab (a checkpoint inhibitor)—demonstrated promising results. In the Phase I/II study, the median overall survival for the 75 patients randomized to this combination reached 19.7 months, compared with 9.5 months for the 37 patients who received the standard treatment, Stivarga. Arcus collaborates closely with Gilead Sciences, focusing on the development of zimberelimab and another immunotherapy.

Updated trial results on MorphoSys’ myelofibrosis drug pelabresib will be released at ASCO, as the abstract for the company’s MANIFEST-2 study contains previously presented data only. The drug’s safety is under scrutiny following a Stat report that highlighted multiple cases of acute myeloid leukemia in patients treated with pelabresib, and created turbulence surrounding Novartis’ pending $2.9 billion acquisition of MorphoSys.

These findings represent significant progress in cancer treatment, especially regarding novel therapies and drug combinations. The upcoming ASCO annual meeting will discuss these results further, providing vital evidence for clinical use. Noteworthy advancements include the colorectal cancer drug combination trial, Johnson & Johnson’s radiotherapy drug’s improved rates with associated risks, differentiated outcomes of TIGIT-targeted drug combinations, promising developments in bispecific antibody therapy for head and neck cancer, and potential dual-target antibody drugs for skin cancer. Colorectal cancer, colorectal cancer surgery, colorectal cancer medication, stage 4 colorectal cancer, symptoms of colorectal cancer in females, Acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myelocytic leukemia diagnosis, acute myelocytic leukemia complete blood count, Pancreatic cancer

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