Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc has entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement with Merck & Co., Inc., (known as MSD outside the US and Canada), for the assessment of Adaptimmune’s NY-ESO SPEAR® (Specific Peptide Enhanced Affinity Receptor) T-cell therapy in combination with MSD’s anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor, KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), in patients with multiple myeloma. The study will evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and preliminary efficacy of the combination, and is planned for initiation in 1H 2017.
Adaptimmune’s SPEAR T-cell candidates are novel cancer immunotherapies that have been engineered to target and destroy cancer cells. Its NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell therapy has previously been evaluated in multiple myeloma in a single agent Phase I/II trial in which 20 out of 22 patients (91 percent) experienced a response at day 100 post autologous stem cell transplant. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that works by increasing the ability of the body's immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells. Blocking this interaction is reported to enable T-cell activation and potentiates antitumor activity.
“In initial single-agent studies of our NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell therapy in patients with advanced myeloma in the context of stem cell transplantation, we have seen encouraging evidence of antitumor effect, safe administration and prolonged persistence of transduced cells,” said Rafael Amado, Adaptimmune’s chief medical officer. “KEYTRUDA has shown preliminary evidence of activity in multiple myeloma, and there is preclinical evidence to support the view that the combination of NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell therapy and anti-PD1 therapy may lead to meaningful anti-tumor activity. We look forward to evaluating our therapy alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA in a randomized trial of patients with multiple myeloma who are refractory or have relapsed with standard therapy. ”
The agreement is between Adaptimmune and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, through a subsidiary. Under the agreement, the trial will be sponsored by Adaptimmune. The agreement also includes provision for potential expansion to include Phase III registration studies in the same indication. Additional details were not disclosed.