Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘Algeta Alpharadin’

Radium-223 Delays time to first SRE

At the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, data was presented by Dr Oliver Sartor (ASCO 2012 Abstract 4551) that showed radium-223 (Alpharadin) significantly delayed time to first skeletal-related event (SRE) in patients with castratation-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and bone metastases.

The SRE data for radium-223 from the ALSYMPCA phase III trial was first presented at ASCO GU earlier this year.

ASCO 2012 radium-223 data discrepancies

Algeta in a communication I received today, however, have advised that the data contained in the ASCO 2012 abstracts has “discrepancies.”  In the absence of more precise information, the discrepancies may or may not be significant.

As with good practice, the sponsors have conducted further verification of the ALSYMPCA SRE data in preparation for the US FDA NDA regulatory submission. This has resulted in changes in the numbers previously reported for SRE data in the ASCO 2012 abstracts (Abstract #4551, LBA #4512). Though discrepancies were noted, the overall interpretation of the results has not changed. The SRE data will be disclosed once all additional data verification and analyses activities are completed.

Mike Booth, Algeta Communications & Corporate Affairs, June 15, 2012 email communication.

While the message that radium-223 significantly delays time to first SRE may not have changed, data accuracy is important and should not be taken lightly.

In his ASCO 2012 prostate cancer poster discussion, Evan Yu, Associate Professor at the University of Washington, made no mention of any “discrepancy.” Instead he used the data in Sartor’s poster that showed the time to first SRE with radium-223 to be 13.6 months versus 8.4 months with placebo, a delay of 5.1 months.

Dr Parker presented updated ALSYMPCA trial data at ASCO 2012 that showed a 5.5 month delay in time to first SRE with radium-223 (12.2 versus 6.7 months). Dr Sartor’s poster was based on 541 patients on radium-223, while Dr Parker’s data was for 614 patients. This suggests that the two presentations represent data at different time points.

Were Bayer and Algeta aware of the issues at the time of ASCO and chose not to say anything?  Obviously, if the discrepancies are small or insignificant then it would not make much difference, but a large difference would be more of a concern.

What is the accurate SRE data for radium-223 from the ALSYMPCA trial?

I look forward to a future press release from Algeta/Bayer clarifying this, and hope that they will advise ASCO if corrections need to be made to the data previously presented and published.


Picture with permission of Bayer

No new data on radium-223 (Alpharadin) was presented at the European Association of Urology 2012 Congress in Paris today.

Dr Chris Parker presented a poster with similar data to his oral presentation on Alpharadin at the recent ASCO GU meeting.  The phase III ALSYMPCA trial results were first presented at ECCO/ESMO in Stockholm last year.

However, one of things I did learn at EAU12 was that Bayer have opened an Expanded Access Program for Alpharadin, that allows eligble advanced prostate cancer patients access to this radiopharmaceutical pending regulatory approval.

I was told by a Bayer representative that a license is required but that they are now approving sites so that they can administer Alpharadin in the United States pending regulatory approval.

Further information is available about the trial (NCT01516762), and inclusion/exclusion criteria are available on the website.  This is good news for advanced prostate cancer patients.


The abstracts for the forthcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology 2012 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium (ASCO GU) have been released and offer insight into some of the new data that will be presented at the meeting.

radium-223 Alpharadin Prostate CancerThe results of the phase III ALSYMPCA trial for radium-223 (Alpharadin) in prostate cancer were presented at ECCO/ESMO last September by Dr Chris Parker.

As expected, there is no change to data presented in Stockholm that showed radium-223 (Alpharadin) improves both Overall Survival and Skeletal Related Events:

radium-223 Overall Survival Benefit
median 14.0 vs 11.2 months; P value = 0.00185; HR = 0.695

radium-223 time to first SRE 
median 13.6 vs 8.4 months; P value = 0.00046; HR = 0.610

However, the meeting abstract published today shows that radium-223 in bone-metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer patients (CRPC), not only significantly prolonged time to first skeletal related event (SRE), but significantly prolonged 3 out of the 4 SRE components:

  • time to spinal cord compression,
  • time to pathological bone fracture
  • time to external beam radiation

No significant improvement in the SRE component of time to surgical intervention was seen with radium-223.

Subscribers to Premium Content can login to read commentary by Dr Oliver Sartor on the clinical significance of this data:

1 Comment

Radium-223 (Alpharadin) is a novel bone targeted treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

At the recent European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm (EMCC 2011), Dr Chris Parker from The Royal Marsden Hospital presented results of the phase 3 ALSYMPCA trial that showed both delayed time to first skeletal-related event (SRE) AND an overall survival (OS) benefit for those men with advanced prostate cancer taking radium-223.  This is the first time a product in the bone category has shown such a survival benefit – neither denosumab or zoledronic acid can claim that distinction.

Unlike the recent regulatory approvals for cabazitaxel (Jevtana) and abiraterone acetate (Zytiga), which focused on the post-docetaxel setting, the ALSYMPCA trial included not only those who had already received cytotoxic therapy, but also pre-docetaxel patients, who were unable to take chemotherapy.

As Dr Parker mentions in the interview that he kindly gave in Stockholm (the first video interview on Biotech Strategy Blog), radium-223, assuming it gains regulatory approval, will provide a new treatment option for the considerable population of men with bone metastases who may be too weak, too old or otherwise unable to take chemotherapy such as docetaxel.

Radium-223 is, therefore, potentially good news for this “neglected” population of prostate cancer patients.

In the video interview, Dr Parker talks about why he believes combining radium-223 with abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) makes sense.

He also talks about some of the challenges that radium-223 still faces, such as how to monitor treatment and work out the optimal dose.  It is hard to believe that Algeta/Bayer would undertake a phase 3 registration study of a novel bone targeted agent without any bone imaging in the protocol!

As Cora Sternberg mentioned in the educational session at EMCC 2011, in advanced prostate cancer, “80% of the disease is in the bone.radium-223 is an exciting radiopharmaceutical that is likely to be “practice changing” once approved.

That’s not to say there are not going to be challenges and issues with its commercialization.  Algeta/Bayer have a lot of work to do now that it is clearly on fast track for FDA approval next year.

Dr Parker also mentions in his interview that radium-223 is a weak alpha emitter and the radiation can be blocked by paper or glass. It therefore requires no special facilities, such as lead lined rooms, for its administration, unlike beta emitters.  The latter have been challenging commercially in the past for this reason.

However, it does require a radiopharmaceutical license, which means that community based oncologists and urologists in the United States will most likely have to refer patients to receive their injection at an approved facility where there is a nuclear medicine/radiology department or equivalent expertise.  In Europe, this is less of an issue given most cancer patients are treated in outpatient clinics associated with hospitals, whereas in the US, the majority of patients are seen in the community setting.

Despite that, it is hard to believe that radium-223 (Alpharadin) will not have a major impact on the advanced prostate cancer market if it can be commercially supplied without difficulty and the details are worked out on how to use it optimally and monitor progress. I am sure we will hear more on these issues at cancer conferences next year.

Looking at the other indications for bone targeted agents such as denosumab and zoledronic acid, radium-223 or a similar radiopharmaceutical could offer potential benefits in other tumor types such as breast cancer, were there are also skeletal related events (SRE’s) associated with treatment.

The video interview I did with Dr Chris Parker is well worth watching, and I am grateful to him for taking the time out of his busy schedule at the recent Cancer Congress in Stockholm. Since this is a first for Biotech Strategy Blog, do let me know if this is something you’d like to see more of moving forwards.

Challenges & opportunities for radium-223 (Alpharadin) in advanced prostate cancer – an interview with Dr Chris Parker 

1 Comment

The phase 3 ALSYMPCA prostate cancer trial results for radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) were presented at the recent ECCO ESMO ESTRO 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm. This was the highlight of the meeting for me.

There was also exciting data in Breast Cancer (BOLERO-2) that you can read more about on Pharma Strategy Blog.

Alpharadin from Norwegian company, Algeta, is the first new treatment for advanced prostate cancer that not only prolongs overall survival (OS) but delays time to first skeletal related event (SRE) in metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer patients.

Leading physicians at the meeting believe that it will be “practice changing.

The Alpharadin data may also have an impact on other bone targeted agents in development for prostate cancer such as cabozantinib (XL184).

Sally Church, PhD (who writes the Pharma Strategy Blog) is quoted by “The Street” as saying that “Alpharadin raises the bar for Exelixis. They have to produce overall survival data now.” Overall Survival (OS) remains the primary regulatory endpoint in prostate cancer drug development.

Prostate cancer experts Johann de Bono and Cora Sternberg also mentioned, in presentations at the Stockholm meeting, that in the future it will be increasingly difficult to do placebo controlled trials in Prostate Cancer given the new treatment options available.

Alpharadin is not yet approved in Europe or the USA, but is on fast track for approval by the FDA in 2012.

Chris Parker (Royal Marsden Hospital) presented the Alpharadin ALSYMPCA trial data as a late breaking abstract in the presidential session at ECCO ESMO 2011. He also conducted a media briefing that I was fortunate to video.

You can watch this below. In it he explains how radium-223 choloride works and why he (and others) believe this may change the standard of care for prostate cancer patients with bone metastases. It is well worth watching!


1 Comment

One piece of hot news at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress (twitter #EMCC2011) taking place in Stockholm this weekend is the data on radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) in metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer. The phase 3 ALSYMPCA trial results were presented in yesterday’s presidential symposia by Dr Chris Parker, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden Hospital.


The Scandinavian location for the presentation could not have been better, given that Alpharadin was developed by the Norwegian company Algeta. Bayer Schering Pharma AG have the worldwide commercial rights, but Algeta maintains a co-promotion option in the United States.

I first picked up on Alpharadin in a presentation given at the American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting by Oliver Sartor (Tulane) earlier this year when he reviewed new prostate cancer products in development.

Algeta-Radium-223-Chloride-ASCO 2011-Abstract-4620At the ASCO 2011 meeting in Chicago there was a poster on the Alpharadin Phase 2 trial data (see the figure on the right) that caught my attention given that it showed an overall survival (OS) advantage.  This news was, however, largely drowned by the interest in cabozantinib (XL184).

The result is that Alpharadin has to many come out of left field. It is a promising compound for the treatment of prostate cancer that will provide new treatment options for patients with metastatic disease. In particular, use in combination with other therapies such as abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) may prolong survival to a greater extent than either does individually.

Currently, radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) is only in investigational use and is not approved in Europe or the United States. It is, however, on the fast track towards FDA approval in 2012.

ALSYMPCA phase 3 prostate cancer data presentation ESMO ECCO 2011What makes Alpharadin exciting as a new treatment option for castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is that the ALSYMPCA trial data shows that it not only provides a significant median overall survival (OS) benefit of 2.8 months compared to placebo (14 months versus 11.2 months, p=0.00185, HR 0.695), but significantly delays the time to first skeletal event by 5.2 months (13.6 months versus 8.4 months, p=0.00046, HR 0.610).

The overal survival (OS) benefit seen in the ALYSMPCA phase 3 trial is comparable to other approved agents in the post-docetaxel setting for CRPC. However, where it is unique is in the additional effect it has on skeletal related events (SRE), a common occurrence in metastatic prostate cancer.  Bone metastases are painful and have a significant impact on quality of life.

Other compounds that target the bone microenviroment such as denosumab (Xgeva), provide a delay in the time to first skeletal event in prostate cancer patients but to-date have not been shown to confer an overall survival advantage. This means that Alphardin is the first bone targeted agent to confer both an overall survival and a delay in time to first skeletal event.

After Dr Parker’s presentation of the ALSYMPCA phase 3 trial data yesterday here in Stockholm,  Professor Wim Oyen of the Department of Nuclear Medicine in Nijmegen discussed the data.

What he noted was the high tolerability of Ra-223 chloride (Alpharadin) as compared to other radiopharmaceuticals for treatment of patients with bone metastases.  He discussed how the emission of alpha particles allows for a short range effect (a few cell diameters) that is very localized, but with a large biological effect.

Oyen highlighted the “opportunity for improving patient outcome by adding Ra-223 in regimens of combination therapy,” something that Dr Parker speculated about in his media briefing.

Professor Oyen also saw “an opportunity for improving patient outcome by using Ra-223 in an adjuvant setting.”  His conclusion based on the phase 3 ALSYMPCA trial data presented was that radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) is an “effective, very well tolerated and convenient treatment modality.


Dr Parker mentioned to me, while waiting for a train back to Stockholm, that the ALSYMPCA trial data he presented had not yet been submitted for publication. He said he would be disappointed if it did not appear in the New England Journal of Medicine. Given that it is groundbreaking and “practice changing,” I would be surprised if it is not published in the NEJM in due course.

I am sure that we will be hearing more about radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) in the forthcoming months, especially now it is on fast track to FDA approval in 2012.

Although not a cure for prostate cancer, the ALSYMPCA trial data presented here in Stockholm is further good news for patients, and will provide a potential new treatment option for urologists and oncologists.

1 Comment
error: Content is protected !!