ONCOS-102 Shows Promise in Combination Mesothelioma Treatment
ONCOS-102, a promising immunotherapy vaccine, is moving closer to becoming a part of future first-line treatment for mesothelioma.
Early clinical trial results announced this week show safety and efficacy when the vaccine is used in combination with standard-of-care chemotherapy for patients with inoperable pleural mesothelioma.
Targovax, a Scandinavian pharmaceutical company developing the drug, is moving forward with another study combining ONCOS-102 with a checkpoint inhibitor drug such as Keytruda (pembrolizumab) or Opdivo (nivolumab), along with chemotherapy.
“We have seen enough data at this point to be going full-steam ahead with larger randomized trials,” Dr. Magnus Jaderberg, chief medical officer at Targovax, told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “The data points to a real benefit with this emerging combination.”
Survival Times Increase
The drug combination including ONCOS-102 had a median progression-free survival of 8.4 months, compared to 6.8 months for the control group receiving only chemotherapy.
Patients receiving the immunotherapy vaccine showed a 90% control rate, 7% better than the control group.
The median progression-free survival was 4.5 months for the combination.
Results are considered still emerging and are expected to change in the coming months.
“We’re excited about what we’ve seen in these early stages. It’s been very well tolerated,” Jaderberg said. “Patients can actually benefit from adding ONCOS-102. We believe in its future.”
The exploratory study involved 31 patients, spread across several centers in Spain and France.
It included 20 patients receiving the experimental therapy, many of whom had more advanced-stage disease.
No Serious Side Effects from ONCOS-102
From a safety standpoint, the combination treatment was well tolerated, showing no side effects beyond what is expected normally with chemotherapy.
Study analysis also showed robust immune-system activation following treatment.
The majority of those receiving the experimental drug had an increased expression of PD-L1, a cell-surface protein. This suggests the addition of checkpoint inhibitor drugs would work even better in combination.
“Eventually, that could become the standard-of-care combination for this disease,” Jaderberg said. “Absolutely, it could happen. We’ll just have to see.”
The drug is being studied also in clinical trials for use on melanoma, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer.
ONCOS-102 is a scientifically engineered, immune system activator that was given by injection in this study on days 1, 4, 8, 36, 78 and 120.
The chemotherapy mix of pemetrexed and cisplatin was administered in 21-day cycles starting on day 22 of treatment.
Hope for an Unmet Need
An earlier, second-line study in Finland that involved various solid tumors no longer responding to chemotherapy led to the mesothelioma clinical trial.
The earlier study produced a 40% disease stabilization rate across all cancers, including two patients with mesothelioma who responded positively.
In an earlier safety cohort for mesothelioma patients, the combination of ONCOS-102 and chemotherapy stabilized disease in only two of the six patients studied.
This latest report was a considerable improvement with a 67% disease control rate for patients receiving the novel combination.
“For mesothelioma, there is a large, unmet medical need for new, innovative treatments such as ONCOS-102,” principal investigator Dr. Luis Paz-Ares said in a Targovax press release. “Although the data is preliminary and still maturing, it is encouraging.”