Glaxo’s MAGE-A3 melanoma cancer vaccine disappoints in late-stage trial

glaxosmithkline mage-A3 melanoma cancer vaccine (Maxwell Hamilton wikimedia commons)

GlaxoSmithKline's MAGE-A3 experimental cancer vaccine was known to be risky, but if pivotal Phase III trial data impressed then a potential blockbuster was on the cards. However, the news just in on the MAGE-A3 immunotherapy will disappoint GSK and melanoma patients alike.

The cancer vaccine failed to significantly extend disease-free survival in melanoma patients in a late-phase clinical trial, and thus the trial failed to meet its first co-primary endpoint. The Phase III DERMA study was evaluating the cancer vaccine in skin cancer patients whose tumours expressed MAGE-A3 – a tumour-specific antigen expressed in about two-thirds of Stage III melanomas.

Reuters reported in December that MAGE-A3 was one of Glaxo's key experimental drugs in Phase III trials in 2013 and 2014, and success with the vaccine could be a major boost to the cancer vaccine field. No doubt these Phase III results will come as a disappointment to the cancer vaccine community as a whole, especially alongside the failure of Merck KGaA's lung cancer vaccine L-BLP25 last December.

Glaxo will continue with the DERMA trial in a gene signature positive sub-population to see if the MAGE-A3 cancer vaccine might benefit a subset of patients. We can expect data on this trial in 2015. The company will also continue to evaluate the MAGE-A3 cancer vaccine in another Phase III trial in Non Small Cell Lung Cancer.

The MAGE-A3 cancer vaccine contains a QS-21 Stimulon saponin-based adjuvant from Agenus. Click to read 6 Novel Adjuvants in Development.

Are you disappointed by the news? Do you think MAGE-A3 still has promise in patient subsets, or in the lung cancer indication? Leave a comment in the box below, or on our LinkedIn group discussion. Sign up to the Vaccine Nation newsletter for more insights into strategy and innovation in vaccines.

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Read the press release and Bloomberg >

Read more: 6 Novel Adjuvants in Development

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