- Epizyme said its experimental blood cancer drug helped shrink the tumors of some patients, although the overall response rate failed to impress some analysts.
- The drug, called tazemetostat, is currently in development for patients with heavily pretreated blood cancers, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and diffuse large-B cell lymphoma.
- Among 47 patients, nine saw their tumors shrink and four saw complete remission, for an objective response rate of 28%. Epizyme presented the early data from its Phase 2 trial at the American Society of Hematology meeting on Lyphoma Biology.
Epizyme stock fell in early Monday trading as investors had hoped for higher efficacy numbers from the interim analysis, according to MarketWatch.
Company officers sounded a positive note, however. “We have observed patients receiving clinical benefit from tazemetostat and continue to believe that prolonged exposure to treatment has the potential to result in decreased tumor burden over time," said Peter Ho, Chief Medical Officer at Epizyme.
Epizyme is currently studying the drug across five patient cohorts, four of which have passed futility. While 47 patients were assessed for efficacy, 82 were evaluated for safety—which was consistent with the safety profile of the drug in phase 1 testing.
The mixed market response to the trial results was also a factor of the limited population evaluated, as the company will eventually report data on 270 patients with NHL.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates about 73,000 new cases of NHL will be diagnosed this year. Although NHL has a five-year survival rate of 71%, it is still considered a disease with an unmet medical need.
Other companies are developing drugs in the space, some with higher response rates than that seen by Epizyme's drug.
This high standard has hit other companies, such as Infinity Pharmaceuticals. The biotech recently announced it would lay off 46 employees after a Phase 2 study of its drug showed only a 46% overall response rate in refractory indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma.