First Patient Enrolled in Phase I Clinical Trial of AstraZeneca Merck & Co. Combination Anticancer Regimen
News Jan 06, 2010
Dr. Anthony Tolcher, clinical director for South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (START) at the START Center for Cancer Care in San Antonio, announced today that the first patient has been enrolled in a groundbreaking Phase I clinical trial of a novel combination anticancer regimen composed of two investigational compounds: MK-2206 from Merck & Co., Inc. and AZD6244 from AstraZeneca.
In June of this year, AstraZeneca and Merck made national news when they announced what they called “a pioneering collaboration” to research a novel combination anticancer regimen composed of two investigational compounds, saying that this is the first time that two large pharmaceutical companies have joined together to evaluate the potential for combining candidate molecules at such an early stage of development.
START has been chosen as the first Phase I center to test the drug combination. START conducts the world’s largest Phase I clinical trials program for oncology.
“This one-of-a-kind study, with two separate pharmaceutical companies sharing their novel agents for this one clinical trial performed at START, represents an exciting step forward for the betterment of cancer research, and most of all, patient care.
Preclinical evidence indicates that combined administration of these compounds could enhance their anticancer properties.
The agreement between Merck and AstraZeneca is pioneering in that two major pharmaceutical companies, each with one component of the combination regimen in its pipeline, are collaborating at an early stage in development. Usually, combinations of novel anticancer agents would only be studied in clinical trials when one component of the regimen is at a late stage of development or when one compound has received marketing approval.
Anthony Tolcher, clinical director for START, and principal investigator for this trial said, “This one-of-a-kind study, with two separate pharmaceutical companies sharing their novel agents for this one clinical trial performed at START, represents an exciting step forward for the betterment of cancer research, and most of all, patient care.”
Background On The Two Anticancer Agents (compiled from information contained in the companies’ original release on the collaboration).
Each candidate is designed to inhibit a protein known to be abnormally activated in human cancers. In preclinical studies, AZD6244 has been shown to affect MEK (Mitogen-activated protein kinase 1), an important signal that promotes cancer cell growth and survival. AZD6244 has completed Phase I evaluation, demonstrating proof of mechanism, and several Phase II monotherapy studies, which showed evidence of clinical activity. It is currently in Phase II clinical trials in a range of tumor types. Merck’s MK-2206 has demonstrated an effect on AKT (a component of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase pathway), an important signal promoting cancer cell survival.