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Imfinzi combination fails advanced lung cancer study

A late-stage clinical trial for Imfinzi and an experimental treatment has not extended the lives of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

A combination of the lung cancer drug Imfinzi and an experimental treatment has failed to extend the lives of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and high levels of gene mutations.

The late-stage clinical trial was testing Imfinzi, chemically known as durvalumab, along with another treatment tremelimumab and compared the combination to platinum-based chemotherapy to treat patients whose cancer had spread beyond the lungs.

The manufacturer, AstraZeneca, said that though the trial (which looked at Stage IV patients – those with the most advanced form of cancer) involved a wide range of patients, the primary group being tested had high levels of mutations in their DNA.

“This [result] is clearly disappointing, albeit we do not think hopes were especially high for the durvalumab plus tremelimumab combination given the relatively poor data shown by the combination to date,” said Liberum analyst Graham Doyle to Reuters.

Mutations in tumours are measured using tumour mutational burden (TMB) and the primary group had TMB of 20 or more.

Imfinzi, which was the first immunotherapy to be approved in the Stage III lung cancer setting, targets the PD-L1 protein on tumour cells, while tremelimumab targets the CTLA-4 protein.

The combination treatment did not meet the main goal of improving overall survival in the primary group of the so-called NEPTUNE study, AstraZeneca said. However, the combination is also being tested in other clinical trials such as those for bladder and blood cancers. 

“Estimates for Imfinzi remain achievable given the approvals to date and the near-term potential for further line extensions,” said Doyle.

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