Biotechnology company Immutep (ASX: IMM) is set to unveil interim data from its ongoing phase 2 TACTI-002 study into its efti drug at the 34th German Cancer Congress in Berlin, Germany taking place today.
The trial was recently expanded after the company announced positive clinical data and said it would recruit more patients for the third stage of TACTI-002.
Immutep’s study has reportedly recorded that 47% of 1st line non-small cell lung cancer patients and 33% of 2nd line head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients, reported encouraging responses.
The company’s chief executive officer Marc Voigt declared that seeing substantial response rates from the combination therapy was “very encouraging”, particularly in light of the good safety profile efti has already established in previous studies.
Speaking at the congress later today, principal investigator Dr Bernhard Doger will present the latest results from Immutep’s study into its lead product candidate eftilagimod alpha, or efti for short – a soluble LAG-3 protein, as part of a combination treatment with another drug called Keytruda, manufactured by pharma giant Merck.
This mechanism plays a vital role in the regulation of the T cell immune response and Immutep is confident it can develop an effective treatment option able to combat various cancers.
Immutep is hopeful that activation of antigenpresenting cells (APC) and subsequent T cell recruitment with efti may lead to stronger anti-tumour responses than observed with pembrolizumab alone.
“The results we are seeing from our TACTI-002 trial are highly encouraging, with 47% of first-line non-small cell lung cancer patients responding,” said Dr Frederic Triebel, chief scientific and marketing officer of Immutep.
“These results are remarkable given that usually, only 20% of patients respond to pembrolizumab monotherapy, if not preselected for high PD-L1 expression.”
“Interestingly, patient responses are being seen in all three PD-L1 expression level groups, meaning the combination treatment seems to work even in patients not expected to respond to pembrolizumab monotherapy,” Mr Triebel said.
Immutep’s ongoing trial in collaboration with Merck is evaluating the combination of efti with Keytruda in up to 109 patients that receive 200mg of pembrolizumab every three weeks, along with 30 mg of efti every two weeks for the first eight cycles and every three weeks thereafter.
The trial itself is a Simon’s two-stage, open-label, single-arm study with patients participating in three distinctive parts.
In part A, Immutep is looking into first-line non-small cell lung cancer; in part B, second line cell lung cancer and in part C, second-line head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Immutep shares gained 18% in early morning trade to $0.46.