SEATTLE, April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - Oncothyreon Inc. (NASDAQ: ONTY) today announced that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has initiated the international Phase 3 START2 study, which is designed to assess the efficacy and safety of the investigational MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy tecemotide (also known as L-BLP25) in patients with unresectable, locally advanced Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is developing tecemotide under a license agreement with Oncothyreon.
The START2 study is a Phase 3, multicenter, 1:1 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of tecemotide in patients suffering from unresectable, locally advanced (Stage IIIA or IIIB) NSCLC who have had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of platinum-based concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT). Concurrent CRT - a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy given at the same time - is the current standard of care for most of these patients. The study is expected to recruit approximately 1,000 patients. The primary endpoint is overall survival (OS). Secondary endpoints include time to symptom progression, progression-free survival and time to progression. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany received Scientific Advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the program and reached an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) for the trial.
START2 is based on the outcome of the prior START trial. While the START trial did not meet the primary endpoint of improving OS in the overall patient population, data from an exploratory analysis of a predefined subgroup of patients, who received tecemotide after concurrent CRT, showed that these patients achieved a median OS of 30.8 months versus 20.6 months in patients treated with placebo (n=806; HR: 0.78; 95% CI 0.64-0.95; p=0.016).
Dr. John Orloff, Global Head of Clinical Development for the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, commented, "There is clearly a very real need for additional treatment options for people fighting NSCLC. The results of the initial START study provided scientific and clinical evidence to inform the design of this new pivotal Phase 3 program. We are pleased that START2 is now underway, and feel confident that this study will address the appropriate gaps in understanding the potential role that tecemotide could play in the management of patients living with unresectable stage III NSCLC."
Tecemotide is an investigational MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy that is designed to stimulate the body's immune system to identify and target cells expressing the cell-surface glycoprotein MUC1. MUC1 is expressed in many cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and has multiple roles in tumor growth and survival. Tecemotide is currently being investigated in the Phase 3 START and INSPIRE trials for the treatment of unresectable, locally advanced Stage III NSCLC.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, obtained the exclusive worldwide rights for development and commercialization of tecemotide from Oncothyreon Inc., Seattle, Washington, U.S., in 2007, in an agreement replacing prior collaboration and supply agreements originally entered in 2001. In Japan, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, entered into a co-development and co-marketing agreement for tecemotide with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan.
The START2 trial is a Phase 3, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of tecemotide in patients suffering from unresectable, locally advanced (Stage IIIA or IIIB) NSCLC who have had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of platinum-based concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT). The primary endpoint of START2 is overall survival.
The initial START Phase 3 trial is a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of tecemotide in patients suffering from unresectable, locally advanced (Stage IIIA or IIIB) NSCLC who have had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of platinum-based chemoradiotherapy (concurrent or sequential). The trial involves 1,239 patients in 33 countries. The primary endpoint of an improvement in overall survival was not met in the START trial.
INSPIRE is a Phase 3, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of tecemotide in patients suffering from unresectable, locally advanced Stage IIIA or IIIB NSCLC who have had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of platinum-based concurrent chemoradiotherapy. INSPIRE is recruiting approximately 500 unresectable, locally advanced Stage III NSCLC patients across China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
Tecemotide is currently under clinical investigation and has not been approved for use in the U.S., Europe, Canada, or elsewhere. Tecemotide has not been proven to be either safe or effective and any claims of safety and effectiveness can be made only after regulatory review of the data and approval of the labeled claims.
Oncothyreon is a biotechnology company specializing in the development of innovative therapeutic products for the treatment of cancer. Oncothyreon's goal is to develop and commercialize novel synthetic vaccines and targeted small molecules that have the potential to improve the lives and outcomes of cancer patients. For more information, visit www.oncothyreon.com.
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