Eureka Therapeutics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company with the goal of curing cancer by developing novel T-cell therapies that harness the evolutionary power of the immune system, announced preliminary safety and clinical results from its ongoing proof-of-concept study of ET140202 T-cell therapy in AFP-positive patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most prevalent form of liver cancer. The data was presented on September 5th in the late-breaking abstracts session of the CAR-TCR Summit in Boston, Massachusetts.
The findings from the proof-of-concept first-in-human study, which is being conducted at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’An Jiaotong University in China, demonstrated a favorable safety profile of ET140202 T-cell therapy in six patients with no observed cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or drug-related neurotoxicity. In addition, one patient in the i.v. arm of the study had a complete response. Overall, tumor regression was observed in three out of six patients.
“We are encouraged by the safety profile and the potential efficacy of ET140202 for AFP-positive liver cancer,” said Cheng Liu, Ph.D., president and CEO of Eureka Therapeutics. “Combining T-cell therapy with a TCR-mimic antibody to target intracellular antigens is a novel approach and can potentially represent a powerful way to treat solid tumors, and in particular, liver cancer, an area of significant unmet medical need. The initial results represent an important milestone in T-cell therapy against solid tumors, and we intend to continue to study and rapidly advance ET140202 into Phase 1 clinical trials in the United States.”
Commenting on the data, liver cancer surgeon and researcher Yuman Fong, M.D. said “Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer where we have had great difficulties finding effective treatments. The study shows early but important data in the possibility of targeting solid tumors using T-cell therapy.” Dr. Fong, the Sangiacomo family chair in Surgical Oncology and chair and professor of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, continued “ET140202 has demonstrated a large therapeutic window with the potential of repeat dosing, combination therapy, as well as a higher dosing level than we have seen with other T-cell programs. I look forward to seeing future data on this study.”
Data from Ongoing Proof of Concept Study
As of the data cutoff date of July 2018, six patients who had previously failed multiple lines of therapy had been treated in one of three treatment arms of ET140202: intravenous (i.v.), intra-hepatic artery (i.a.) infusion or intratumoral (i.t.) injection. All patients enrolled in this study were AFP-expressing HCC patients carrying at least one HLA-A2 allele. All six patients had pre-existing cirrhosis.
In vivo T-cell expansion, which indicates T-cell activation, was observed in all six patients. Reduction of serum AFP was observed in four out of the six patients. A complete response was observed in one patient at the five-month assessment, with tumor regression observed in both the primary liver tumors and distal lung metastases after multiple treatment doses. In addition, the serum AFP of this patient returned to normal levels at the five-month assessment.
The complete response was maintained at the seven-month assessment. Among other patients with one to three months of follow-up, two patients showed partial tumor regression, two patients showed stable disease and one patient showed progressive disease. Of the six patients, three died due to non-drug-related complications of liver disease. Two of these three patients showed a partial response at the one-month follow-up assessment.
Across all evaluable patients, ET140202 was generally well-tolerated. All drug-related adverse events reported by investigators were limited to Grades 1 or 2, with the most common being fever and fatigue.