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Posts tagged ‘ASCO GU’

As 2013 comes to an end, rather than look back as many are doing, I’m looking forward to 2014. January is a busy month for cancer meetings with the ASCO organized gastrointestinal cancers symposium (ASCO GI) and genitourinary cancers symposium (ASCO GU) both taking place in San Francisco a few weeks apart.

In fact, looking at the calendar of forthcomings meetings, 2014 looks to have a West Coast focus, with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) taking place in San Diego in April, and the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting also heading to San Francisco in December.

Transcontinental airfares are notoriously expensive at the last minute so if flying from the East Coast, do make travel plans early!

The ASCO GU symposium takes place at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis from Jan 20 – February 1, 2014. The abstracts for meeting go online at 5pm Eastern Time on Jan 28.

ASCO in a December 19 press release have already announced what will be highlighted on the January 28 press cast, and what many of the media can be anticipated to write about from the meeting.

Perhaps not surprisingly the Medivation PREVAIL trial data (LBA1) is top of the list; the abstract for this presentation has already been published online as Professor Tombal (@BertrandTOMBAL) kindly highlighted on Twitter.

This preview highlights some of the prostate cancer abstracts and presentations to watch out for at the meeting:

Drugs discussed in this post include: enzalutamide (Xtandi), abiraterone (Zytiga), ODM-201, ARN-509, ipilimumab (Yervoy).

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Galeterone (Tokai Pharmaceuticals) is a new prostate cancer drug in development that has an interesting triple mechanism of action in that like abiraterone (Zytiga) it acts as a CYP17 lyase inhibitor, but it also acts as an androgen receptor (AR) inhibitor and is an AR degrading drug that decreases AR levels.

How effective it is compared to AR antagonists on the market such as enzalutamide (Medivation) or second-generation AR antagonists in development such as ARN-509 (Aragon Pharmaceuticals) or ODM-201 (Orion Pharma) is one of the many unanswered questions with this drug.

The poster (abstract #184) from Tokai scientists presented at the recent 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando (ASCO GU) showed preclinical laboratory work using cell lines whereby galeterone was a potent CYP17 lyase inhibitor. It may offer an advantage over abiraterone in not requiring concomitant administration of steroids.

Despite being a clinically focused meeting, no patient data using the new formulation of the drug was presented at ASCO GU; this was disappointing given the potential safety concerns that were raised with the original formulation.

AACR 2012 data showed drug-related rhabdomyolysis & acute renal failure, both Grade 4

Last year at the 2012 AACR annual meeting, Mary Ellen Taplin, MD presented data from the ARMOR1 clinical trial of galeterone in chemotherapy-naïve castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).

Of particular concern was the one serious adverse event of drug-related Grade 4 rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure she reported. Some commentators have dismissed this as a “fluke” but it was clearly taken seriously by the company in the AACR presentation I saw with several slides discussing this and liver safety considerations.

Dr Taplin concluded her AACR presentation by stating that further work was planned to optimize the formulation of galeterone, and that a new phase 2 study with a better formulation was planned for later in 2012.

Critical clinical questions remain unanswered

As Professor Johann de Bono, who was the discussant at AACR 2012 noted, a future trial with galeterone has a number of critical questions to answer:

  • Can galeterone achieve sufficient exposure?
  • Can galeterone block CYP17? AR? Degrade AR?
  • Can galeterone reverse MDV/abiraterone resistance?

So why haven’t I written much about galeterone, as one blog reader recently wrote in to ask?  It’s largely because I don’t think there is enough data to make any conclusions yet and both the liver toxicity and rhabdomyolysis issues will overshadow its development until Tokai address this convincingly.

I certainly haven’t seen any pharmacokinetic data on the new formulation to show that safety and efficacy are acceptable, nor any data to show that it has a definite effect on disease progression over and above abiraterone or enzalutamide.

Tokai announced on December 13, 2012 that they had treated the first patient in the Phase 2 ARMOR2 trial, which will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the new formulation.

Hopefully, the clinical data from ARMOR2 will show no repeat of the drug-related grade 4 rhabdomyolysis and acute renal failure seen in the ARMOR1 trial.  Only then will we know whether this was a “fluke” or not as some commentators have suggested.

The company has shown a proof of concept but until we see more data, I don’t think we really can assess what potential galeterone may have in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

For those interested in the data on galeterone presented at ASCO GU, here’s a link to a PDF of the poster available on the Tokai Pharmaceuticals website.

Galeterone Commercialization Challenges

Some of the challenges that Tokai may face in bringing galeterone to market include:

1. Need for a new formulation has delayed drug development

There are multiple new prostate cancer products in development in what will before long be a much more competitive market than it is today.  Although galeterone received a fast track designation from the FDA , I can’t help but think that the company has lost a year as a result of the need to develop a new formulation. Given the market dynamics, this delay could impact Tokai and the potential market opportunity for galeterone.

2. Abiraterone patent expiration is on the horizon

The short patent life for abiraterone and prospect of the availability of a generic version in a few years, could negate some of the advantages of having a CYP17 “combination product”. Galeterone may not require the concomitant administration of steroids, but this benefit may not be sufficiently attractive on its own to justify a premium price when a generic version of abiraterone becomes available.

3. How good an AR antagonist is galeterone?

We don’t yet know how effective an AR antagonist the new formulation of galeterone is. At the scientific meetings I have attended, I have only seen one slide on the mechanism of action, and it’s unclear to me what effect galeterone may have (if any) on AR splice variants. Other questions that come to mind are:

  • Is galeterone a more complete antagonist of AR like enzalutamide or does it have antagonist and agonist properties like bicalutamide?
  • Will galeterone offer benefits over using an AR antagonist such as enzalutamide in combination with abiraterone?
  • Are the AR antagonist effects of galeterone better than second-generation AR antagonists in development such as ARN-509, ODM-201?

4. Randomized registration trials will need to be done against the standard of care

If your registration trial is not already underway, the days of placebo controlled trials in advanced prostate cancer are over. It would be unethical to give men an inactive placebo when effective new therapies are already available, especially in the post chemotherapy setting. Tokai will most likely have to do a randomized registration trial of galaterone against abiraterone. Will it be superior or only equivalent in efficacy and tolerabilty?

5. To charge a premium price, Tokai will need to show men live longer

The competitive landscape is moving fast, and I predict as the cumulative cost of prostate cancer treatment increases, the market will become more price sensitive as new drugs are approved. If Tokai desire to charge a premium price, then they will need to show that galeterone is superior to the standard of care i.e. men live longer when taking it compared to taking abiraterone or enzalutamide.

Abiraterone had the first mover advantage as the first drug to seek approval in the pre-chemotherapy CRPC setting. Johnson and Johnson obtained FDA approval based on the totality of the COU-AA-302 trial data, which included the absence of a significant overall survival advantage, although this would most likely have been reached had the trial not been stopped early. In future, I can’t see other companies being equally blessed. Medivation will most likely run their PREVAIL trial until a significant overall survival advantage is obtained, and in the process raise the bar for future competitors such as galeterone.

Other combinations may offer more benefit than galeterone

It is good news for men with advanced prostate cancer that new treatment combinations are on the horizon.  While I remain sceptical about galeterone, at least until they show compelling clinical data, I am excited about new treatment options such as radium-223 (Alpharadin) that will soon be approved by the FDA.

Professor Bertrand Tombal in his recent ASCO GU interview with Sally Church, PhD said the trial he’d most like to do is radium-223 + enzalutamide. I share his enthusiasm for this. If you haven’t already read the interview, here’s a link to it on Pharma Strategy Blog.

While I didn’t think galeterone was worth writing about from AACR 2012 given that it was headed back to the lab for a new formulation, a novel prostate cancer treatment that did catch my attention was AZD3514 from AstraZeneca. Here’s the link to my AACR 2012 post in case you missed it. This is one that I am watching, and I hope there will be phase 1 clinical trial data for AZD3514 at the ASCO annual meeting later this year.

My Conclusion

In my view, Tokai Pharmaceuticals have yet to show the new formulation of galeterone is safe and effective or that men with advanced prostate cancer live longer when taking the drug compared to taking abiraterone or enzalutamide either sequentially, or in combination. While galeterone may offer an innovative mechanism of action, it is too early to say whether this will translate into any meaningful clinical benefit in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer or whether it’s just another me-too drug in development.

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.

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San-Francisco-Golden-Gate-Bridge-view-from-Coit-Tower-copyright-Pieter-DroppertAfter the recent JP Morgan Healthcare conference, San Francisco remains the destination of choice for forthcoming medical meetings.

Yesterday, saw the start of the 2012 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium (ASCO GI) at Moscone West from Jan 19-21.

In a few weeks time, the 2012 ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium (ASCO GU) will be held at the San Franciso Marriott Marquis from Feb 2-4.

If you are based in San Francisco, you are at the heart of the action. It’s less optimal if you are East Coast based, unless you need the frequent flyer miles and have a good travel budget!

According to the ASCO GU preliminary program there are eight oral abstracts on prostate cancer that will be presented at the meeting on Thursday, February 2. Here’s my preview of a few that caught my attention:

ASCO GU Abstract #1:

MDV3100 Phase 3 AFFIRM trial results

The first presentation of the MDV3100 AFFIRM phase 3 trial results are a late-breaking abstract and my prediction for the highlight of the prostate cancer session at ASCO GU.

So far, all that is known from the November 3, 2011 press release from Medivation/Astellas is that MDV3100 produced a 4.8 month advantage in median overall survival compared to placebo in men with advanced prostate cancer.

This met the primary endpoint of the phase 3 AFFIRM trial, and the study was stopped early as a result.  As the press release notes, MDV3100 provided a 37% reduction in risk of death compared to placebo (hazard ratio = 0.631).

Howard Scher (MSKCC) will present the AFFIRM trial results at ASCO GU, and a closer look at the MDV3100 data is eagerly awaited.

ASCO GU Abstract #6:

Effect of denosumab on prolonging bone-metastasis-free survival (BMFS) in men with nonmetastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) presenting with aggressive PSA kinetics.

Amgen are seeking a new indication for denosumab (Xgeva) in prostate cancer on the grounds that it prolongs bone metastasis-free survival in men with non-metastatic CRPC.  The supplemental Biologics Application (sBLA) for denosumab will be discussed at the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) meeting on February 8, 2012.

The results from the phase 3, 147 trial were published in The Lancet last November and showed that use of denosumab delayed time to first bone metastasis by 3.7 months and improved bone-metastasis free survival.

Sally Church on Pharma Strategy Blog wrote about the denosumab 147 data presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA 2011) last year.

However, the challenge that Amgen faces is that they have yet to show that use of denosumab in men with prostate cancer results in an improvement in overall survival.  While it may delay the spread of prostate cancer to the bone, the gold standard for all the prostate cancer drugs approved to date has been overall survival.

The 147 trial showed that overall survival was similar between those taking placebo and those receiving denosumab (HR 1.01; 95 percent CI: 0.85, 1.20; p=0.91). Hypernatremia and osteonecrosis of the jaw were also reported with a higher frequency in the denosumab group

It is possible that there may be updated data at ASCO GU, but most likely it will be a review of The Lancet data with some subset analysis.

The FDA Center for Drug Evaluation & Research (CDER) plans to provide a free of charge, live webcast of the February 8, 2012 meeting of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee, so I am looking forward to what the committee makes of Amgen’s filing.

ASCO GU Abstract #7:

Vitamin E & the Risk of Prostate Cancer – updated results of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT)

Eric Klein will be presenting updated results from the SELECT trial that were previously reported in the October 12, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The data showed a 17% increase in prostate cancer risk with Vitamin E supplements. Although the program abstract advertises updated data, I’m not expecting the data to differ dramatically from last year’s JAMA paper.

ASCO GU Abstract #8:

Overall survival benefit and safety profile of radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin), a first-in-class alpha-pharmaceutical: Results from a phase III randomized trial (ALSYMPCA) in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) with bone metastases.

The ALSYMPCA trial data is being presented for the benefit of attendees who did not hear Oliver Sartor’s presentation on radium-223 (Alpharadin) at the NY Chemotherapy Foundation or hear Chris Parker present the trial data at ECCO/ESMO in Stockholm. This makes strong commercial sense, especially as it’s a product that physicians in the United States may know little about.

I blogged extensively about the ALSYMPCA trial results presented last year, and had the privilege to do an interview with Chris Parker from the Royal Marsden Hospital at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress (ECCO/ESMO/ESTRO) in Stockholm.

I am not expecting new data to be presented at ASCO GU on radium-223, but it will be interesting to see how the audience views a bone targeted radio-pharmaceutical that unlike denosumab, does provide an overall survival benefit.

The ALSYMPCA trial showed a significant delay in time to first skeletal-related event (SRE) of 13.6 months vs 8.4 months:

radium-223-Alpharadin-time-to-first-skeletal-related-event-ALSYMPCA-trialAND a median overall survival of 14 months compared to 11.2 months for placebo group:

radium-223-Alpharadin-overall-survival-benefit-ALSYMPCA-trialAlpharadin is on the fast track to FDA approval this year.

My conclusion:  If you plan to be at ASCO GU 2012, the prostate cancer data to watch is the first presentation of the MDV3100 AFFIRM trial results.

 

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