August 25th, 2014
Advaxis, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADXS), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cancer immunotherapies, has entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through its subsidiaries, to evaluate the combination of Advaxis’s Lm-LLO cancer immunotherapy, ADXS-PSA, with Merck’s investigational anti PD-1 antibody, pembrolizumab. The planned clinical trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of ADXS-PSA as monotherapy and in combination with pembrolizumab in a Phase 1/2 study of patients with previously treated metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Both ADXS-PSA and pembrolizumab are investigational members of a new class of cancer treatments known as immunotherapies that are designed to enhance the body’s own defenses in fighting cancer. Preclinical evidence suggests that AdvaxisLm-LLO immunotherapies in combination with a PD-1 inhibitor may lead to an enhanced anti-tumor immune response.
“We are excited to be working with Merck. Equally as exciting is the combination potential of our Lm-LLO immunotherapy with Merck’s anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor,” commented Daniel J. O’Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer of Advaxis. “We believe the combination of Advaxis Lm-LLO cancer immunotherapies and checkpoint inhibitors holds significant promise for the treatment of prostate and other cancers.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Advaxis and Merck will collaborate to evaluate the ADXS-PSA/pembrolizumab combination as a treatment for prostate cancer. The Phase 1 part of the trial is designed to establish a recommended dose regimen for ADXS-PSA alone and combined with pembrolizumab, and the Phase 2 portion will assess the safety and efficacy of the combination. Advaxis will sponsor and fund the study and Merck will provide pembrolizumab. The companies will collaboratively oversee the conduct of the study, which is planned to begin in early 2015. Results from the study will be used to determine the path for further clinical development of the combination.
“Collaborations such as this are an integral part of Merck’s strategy to evaluate the potential of pembrolizumab in multiple combinations for a broad range of cancers,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president Oncology, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with Advaxis to evaluate this novel investigational combination immunotherapy for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.”