Loxo Oncology opened this past weekend's annual conference of the American Society for Clinical Oncology with compelling data showing its drug's efficacy across an array of 17 different cancers. Patients studied all shared a genetic abnormality known as TRK fusion which, while rare, shows up in many tumor types.
Three quarters of patients responded to the drug, generating a good dose of buzz at the conference and a 43% lift to the company's stock Monday. While the results were unquestionably positive for Loxo, larotrectinib's performance also marks another step forward in the lofty and still yet unrealized goal of precision oncology.
Just last month, Merck's flagship immunotherapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab) won a landmark approval from the Food and Drug Administraiton for tumors with a specific biomarker, regardless of where that cancer developed in the body. Treating cancer based solely on the genetic profile of a patient's cancer has been a long-talked about objective, and progress from Merck, Loxo and others show what's possible beyond the molecularly targeted therapies that have advanced clinical care in the past decades.
That thread of improving precision could also be seen in data presented by Bluebird Bio and Nanjing Legend Biotech, which showed the broader potential for CAR-T therapy outside of leukemia and lymphoma. While checkpoint inhibitors have transformed oncology by broadly unlocking the immune system, CAR-Ts specifically engineer patient's T-cells to seek out specific targets expressed by different cancer types.
All this progress is undeniably encouraging. But more work needs to be done to expand the field's understanding of which patients are most likely to benefit. Immunotherapies work well in a subset of patients, but many don't see a response. For drugs like Loxo's larotrectinib, simply identifying enough patients sharing a rare genetic marker to successfully conduct a clinical trial is a challenge. Sequencing, testing and validating biomarkers could end up being just as important as developing new drugs.
Read on for a round-up of some of the biggest developments from oncology's biggest conference.
CAR-Ts steal the show
Impressive data from Bluebird Bio and Nanjing Legend Biotech point to CAR-T's relevance outside of leukemias and lymphomas. Read More >>
Roche's Perjeta cuts risk in Aphinity, but is it enough?
The large Phase 3 study has been closely watched as potentially practice changing but the modest benefit could limit its impact in adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. Read More >>
Loxo shows promise of biomarker approach to cancer
Clinical data presented Saturday showed treatment with Loxo Oncology's larotrectinib shrank tumors in three-quarters of patients with a range of 17 different advanced cancers. Read More >>
Juno marks progress with second-gen CAR-T
Updated results for JCAR017 looked competitive in lymphoma as Juno hopes to recover from its earlier safety setbacks with its now shuttered JCAR015 program. Read More >>
J&J seeks label expansion for Zytiga
The pharma's prostate cancer drug was a big winner at ASCO, with data showing a 38% reduction in the chance of death for high-risk patients when adding Zytiga to standard hormonal therapy. Read More >>
Incyte pads its IDO numbers
IDO inhibitors have been pegged as the next step in immuno-oncology combinations, but Incyte's rising market value prompts questions over what that's worth. Read More >>
Roche's Alecensa bests Xalkori in lung study
The ALK inhibitor from the Swiss pharma dramatically improved progression-free survival over Xalkori, potentially positioning itself as the new standard of care. Read More >>
AstraZeneca's Lynparza stays step ahead of PARP rivals
Data showing a 42% risk reduction in disease worsening compared to chemo in breast cancer patients should help build Lynparza's profile outside of ovarian cancer. Read More >>
Merck touts Keytruda bladder benefit post Tecentriq failure
Data announced for Keytruda in bladder cancer raises questions about the differences in checkpoint inhibitors after Roche's recent failure in the space. Read More >>
Chi-Med, Lilly tout cancer med's efficacy in the colorectal setting
Median overall survival was about three months longer for patients receiving fruquintinib versus those on placebo. Read More >>