Two drug development powerhouses, Bristol Meyers Squibb and AbbVie, will collaborate to develop a treatment option for patients with relapsed extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC), a difficult to treat cancer because of its tendency to be widely disseminated by the time of diagnosis.
The collaboration will result in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of AbbVie’s investigational biomarker-specific antibody drug Rova-T (rovalpituuzumab tesirine) in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) and Opdivo + Yervoy (ipilimumab).
Patient enrollment will begin later this year.
The combination of the two drugs is seen as a potentially successful treatment option because of the following pharmaceutical properties: Rova-T targets and eliminates tumor initiating cells and other bulk tumor cells by administering a cytotoxic agent at the cellular level; Opdivo works by inhibiting cancer cell ability to turn patient immune system surveillance molecules off, which ensures that the body is able to differentiate between normal and cancer cells.
The therapeutic combo’s ability to promote targeted cell killing and antigen release with an enhanced immunotherapy effect will be tested in the upcoming clinical trial.
In a press release, Dr. Jean Viallet, the global clinical research lead for oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said the company is excited to explore the potential benefits of combining the company’s immunotherapies with a targeted approach like Rova-T in small cell lung cancer .
“As the science around cancer research continues to rapidly evolve, we are building on our leadership in immuno-oncology with numerous collaborations that may help advance new therapies for cancers in need of better options,” Viallet said.
AbbVie’s Vice President of research and development, Scott J. Dylla, PhD, agreed.
“We believe the combination of these cancer-fighting agents may offer patients a new treatment option in a disease with limited therapies,” Dylla said. “By combining immune-checkpoint inhibitors that prime the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells with Rova-T’s approach to target cancer stem cells, we hope to build on our goal to develop differentiated treatments with therapeutic benefit that elevate the standard of care for small cell lung cancer patients.”