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

Posts tagged ‘radium-223’

If you had told me several weeks ago that we would write over 28 posts on #AACR16 and become very interested in mouse models, then most likely I would have laughed out loud and told you not to be so ridiculous!  Here we are with the 29th one and, another, on the bromododomain landscape yet to go.  Such was the vast richness of data and concepts being discussed or presented in New Orleans for those who chose to look.

Today, I want to start the segue from AACR to ASCO coverage.

Nawlins MGRAS FIOne way to do that is through the second part of the Gems from the Post Hall series. This latest one looks at a range of intriguing new targeted therapies and novel targets that are emerging, including a pharma company with a particularly interesting early pipeline.

Several pharma companies presented interesting data on their very early compounds currently in development, plus I noticed a trend for a new class of targeted therapies to emerge, MNK inhibitors, which we will also discuss.

Companies mentioned: Bayer, Orion Pharma, Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, Agios.

Targets mentioned: PI3K, CDK, Akt, TWEAK, FGFR, BUB1, IDH1, SMYD2, MNK

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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.

 

The recent AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics international conference in San Francisco was an informative meeting.

What I particularly liked was the strategic overview that took place in many of the plenary sessions.

As an example, Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research/The Royal Marsden in London highlighted the potential drug development targets based on prostate cancer biology:

  • Androgen Receptor (AR)
  • Heat Shock Proteins (Hsp)
  • Signaling: HER3, MET, IGF-1R, CCL2, IL-6, Src
  • PI3K/AKT/TOR signaling
  • PARP and BRCAness
  • Estrogen receptor (ER)
  • c-MYC & CHK1

His presentation discussed the possible therapeutic approaches, and complexity involved in developing novel targeted therapies for prostate cancer.

This is something that I expect we will hear more of at the AACR special conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research early next year.

In particular, de Bono discussed drug development strategies to target androgen receptor signaling, and some of the future challenges including:

  • Proving to the regulatory authorities that circulating tumor cell (CTC) count falls are a robust immediate endpoint of overall survival
  • Developing improved imaging for bone metastases

As a side note, there were several posters for cabozantinib (XL184) at the meeting (available on the Exelixis website), including preliminary research on computer-aided quantitative bone scan assessment.

However, as de Bono mentioned in his presentation, “diffusion weighted MRI shows hot spots not detected by bone scans.”

2010 and 2011 were good years for prostate cancer drugs, and with new approvals for MDV3100 and radium-223 (Alpharadin) expected, 2012 is set to be another “grand cru” year, to paraphase Bertrand Tombal.

If you were not able to make it to San Francisco for the Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics conference, webcasts of many sessions will be available on the AACR site.

 

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.

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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.

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Radium-223 (Alpharadin) will be “Practice Changing” is how Michael Baumann, President of the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) and Jean-Charles Soria, Co-Scientific chair of the 2011 Stockholm Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress described the prostate cancer clinical trial data to be presented in the Presidential (plenary) session on Saturday September 24, 2011.

Alpharadin is the first bone targeted therapy to show an overall survival (OS) advantage in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). To date, none of the other therapies targeting bone in prostate cancer such as zoledronic acid (Zometa), denosumab (Xgeva) or cabozantinib (XL184) have shown any overall survival benefit.

The Alphardin data from the phase 3 ALSYMPCA trial that will be presented in Stockholm shows an increase in overall survival of 2.8 months compared to placebo (median OS of 14 months with Alpharadin versus median OS of 11.2 months with placebo, p=0.00185, HR=0.695).

What is big news is that Alpharadin also significantly prolongs time to first skeletal related event (p=0.00046; HR=0.610). This is tremendous news for prostate cancer patients given the number that experience bone metastases.

It is not, however, good news for Amgen and denosumab (Xgeva). Amgen have tried to associate the improvement in symptoms and decline in skeletal related events with survival, but have failed to obtain any overall survival data (OS). This is something that Alphardin achieves as well as a significant reduction in time to first skeletal related event (SRE).

What Alpharadin has effectively shown is that by nuking bone metastases using a weak alpha emitting radium-223, overall survival (OS) can be prolonged in a way that targeting rank ligand does not. This is ground breaking news and the 2011 Stockholm Multidisciplinary Congress have rightly recognized the importance of this data with a plenary session. For further information on how Alpharadin works – see my previous blog post about the ASCO 2011 phase 2 data.

At the press briefing late friday afternoon in Stockholm, Dr Chris Parker of the Royal Marsden Hospital and PI of the ALSYMPCA study said that “Radium-223, a novel alpha-pharmaceutical, may provide a new standard of care for the treatment of  CRPC patients with bone metastases.”

There is no doubt in my mind that it will lead to a new standard of care. What’s more as Dr Parker speculated in the press briefing, there is no reason why Alphardin could not be combined with androgen receptor antagonists such as the recently approved abiraterone acetate (Zytiga).

Both are well tolerated and operate by different mechanisms of action.  It’s hard not to believe that the overall survival of CRPC patients will be increased by such a combination.

When approved, Alpharadin and any possible combination with Zytiga, may further delay the use of sanofi-aventis’ cabazitaxel (Jevtana) in the post-doctaxel CRPC setting. It may also potentially have an impact on the use of sipuleucel-T (Provenge) in the asymptomatic population.

The Alpharadin phase 3 trial results is exciting news from the 2011 Stockholm Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress. I will be writing more after Dr Parker presents the data in the Presidential session later today.

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Earlier this week Bayer & Algeta announced that Alpharadin™ (radium-223 chloride) had received Fast Track designation from the FDA for the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).

Bayer signed an agreement with Norwegian based Algeta in 2009 for the global commercial rights to Alpharadin™, with Algeta retaining a 50/50 co-promotion and profit-sharing in the United States.

According to the Algeta August 23, 2011 press release, in light of the FDA fast track designation they plan on filing for United States approval in mid-2012, ahead of previous expectations.

At the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago this year, phase II clinical trial data for Alpharadin™ was presented during the poster session (Abstract #4620).  You can obtain a copy of the poster here.

ASCO Alpharadin™ Phase 2 Data showed increase in Overall Survival

What impressed me when I saw the poster and talked to Gillies O’Brien-Tear, the Chief Medical Officer for Algeta, was the increase in overall survival (OS) seen. In the phase 2 study presented, Alpharadin™ improved OS by 4.5 months versus placebo when added to the standard of care in patients with CRPC and bone metastases.

To me this stands out from other drugs that are targeting bone metastases in CRPC, such as cabozantinib (XL184) and denosumab (Xgeva®), where to my knowledge no overall survival benefits have yet been seen.

Despite the lack of OS benefit, Amgen announced earlier this week on Aug 22nd, they had made a supplemental BLA application for denosumab to expand the indication to include the prevention of bone metastases in CRPC. The PDUFA date is April 12, 2012.

Will Xgeva® and Alpharadin™ be viewed as potential competitors or used synergistically? It will be interesting to see any data that shows the impact of Alpharadin™ on bone pain and quality of life, and how physicians view the new treatment options that may be available to them.

How does Radium-223 chloride act? 

It is a calcium mimetic that is taken up by bone, where the radium then emits alpha-particles that act on the prostate cancer bone metastases.  The radiation is only short range (2-10 cell diameters) which limits its toxicity to healthy tissue and results in localized and focused radiation that kills metastatic cancer cells in the bone.

The day after the phase 2 results were presented at ASCO, Algeta and Bayer announced on June 6, positive data from the interim analysis of the phase 3 ALSYMPCA (ALpharadin in SYMptomatic Prostate CAncer patients) trial.

This study began in June 2008, with enrollment of 922 patients completed in January 2011. According to the June 6 press release, the interim analysis of the ALSYMPCA trial showed a statistically significant increase in overall survival in CRPC patients receiving Alpharadin™ compared to placebo.

Median overall survival was 14.0 months for Alpharadin™ and 11.2 months for placebo (two-sided p-value = 0.0022, HR = 0.699)

As a result of the interim analysis, the independent data monitoring committee recommended that the trial be stopped and patients on the placebo arm offered treatment with Alpharadin™. Dr Chris Parker, from the Royal Marsden Hospital, and Principal Investigator of ALSYMPCA, said:  

“Based on the observed survival benefit and its safety profile, Alpharadin may become an important treatment for patients with bone metastases from advanced prostate cancer.”

At the forthcoming European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm (co-sponsored by ECCO, ESMO and ESTRO), the phase III Alpharadin data for the ALSYMPCA trial will be presented as a late breaking abstract on September 24, 2011 in the Presidential Session.

The abstracts for the meeting are not yet available, but in the light of the FDA Fast Track designation earlier this week, and the fact the ALSYMPCA trial results will be presented in a plenary session at Stockholm, positive data is expected.

The prostate cancer market is certainly heating up with the approval earlier this year of Zytiga™ (abiraterone acetate) and several products in late stage development such as Alpharadin™, MDV3100, TAK-700 and custirsen (OGX-011). It’s good news for patients that new treatment options may be available before too long.  As to how these new therapies are used, sequenced and combined, that is set to be the topic of conversation at medical and scientific meetings over the coming year.

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