“OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: OMED), a clinical-stage company developing novel anti-cancer stem cell and immuno-oncology therapeutics, reported new biomarker and updated clinical data for the company’s Phase 2 anti-Notch2/3 therapeutic candidate, tarextumab (OMP-59R5). These data show the potential of Notch3 overexpression as a prognostic factor in small cell lung cancer and update OncoMed’s Phase 1b results for tarextumab in combination with standard-of-care chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with extensive-stage disease. Anne Chiang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine, will present these data in a mini-oral presentation this afternoon at the 16th World Lung Conference on Lung Cancer.
” ‘Notch is known to be a fundamental cancer stem cell pathway driving the initiation and spread of tumors. Notch3 in particular has been associated with poor prognosis in a variety of solid tumor types, including pancreatic, breast and ovarian cancers,’ said Dr. Chiang. ‘Our analyses of small cell lung cancer patient tumors demonstrate that Notch3 overexpression in extensive-stage small cell lung cancer tumors is common and may be associated with poor survival. This is the first time that Notch3 tumor expression has been tested in small cell lung cancer and associated with poor patient outcomes.’ “
The gist: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted “orphan drug” designation to a new drug called tarextumab for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and pancreatic cancer. The designation will make it easier for the drug maker to successfully develop tarextumab and get it to patients in the U.S. Tarextumab has shown promise in patients in a clinical trial. It is given to patients in combination with chemotherapy.
“The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation to the OncoMed agent tarextumab for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. Tarextumab (formerly OMP-59R5) is a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the Notch 2/3 receptors.
“ ‘We are excited to receive two separate orphan drug designations for tarextumab for the treatment of pancreatic and small-cell lung cancer,’ said Paul J. Hastings, OncoMed’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.
“Earlier this month the drug company announced final phase 1b clinical and biomarker data from the ALPINE (Antibody Therapy in First-Line Pancreatic Cancer Investigating Anti-Notch Efficacy and Safety) study, which tested tarextumab in combination with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel in pancreatic cancer.
“Of the 29 patients in the trial, 21 (73%) achieved either a partial response or stable disease with the combination therapy.”
Zheng Y, de la Cruz CC, Sayles LC, Alleyne-Chin C, et al. Cancer Cell. Jul 8, 2013.
Sustained tumor progression has been attributed to a distinct population of tumor-propagating cells (TPCs). To identify TPCs relevant to lung cancer pathogenesis, we investigated functional heterogeneity in tumor cells isolated from Kras-driven mouse models of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). CD24+ITGB4+Notchhi cells are capable of propagating tumor growth in both a clonogenic and an orthotopic serial transplantation assay. While all four Notch receptors mark TPCs, Notch3 plays a nonredundant role in tumor cell propagation in two mouse models and in human NSCLC. The TPC population is enriched after chemotherapy, and the gene signature of mouse TPCs correlates with poor prognosis in human NSCLC. The role of Notch3 in tumor propagation may provide a therapeutic target for NSCLC.