Preliminary data from a study done by the Norwegian immuno-oncology company Targovax show a numerical advantage in Progression-Free Survival in mesothelioma patients treated with the experimental adenovirus ONCOS-102.
Researchers believe they are ready to discuss prospective pharma collaborations and move forward with a checkpoint inhibitor combination study after the combination of ONCOS-102 with standard chemotherapy showed promising clinical results among malignant mesothelioma patients.
ONCOS-102 and Targeting Malignant Mesothelioma Tumors
Targovax’s lead product, ONCOS-102, is an oncolytic virus designed to target and eliminate hard-to-treat tumors in patients with mesothelioma, melanoma, and peritoneal malignancies. The company announced last week the first set of clinical results from the randomized phase I/II trial of ONCOS-102 in combination with standard chemotherapy.
ONCOS-102 was designed to eliminate inside cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. When successful, the treatment stimulates the immune system after binding to and entering tumor cells, resulting in the cells’ deaths. The checkpoint inhibitor drug works by blocking proteins made by immune system cells that may block healthy cells from killing cancerous ones.
The principal investigator of the trial, Luis Paz-Ares, believes the continuing development of ONCOS-102 is urgent in treating malignant mesothelioma.
“Mesothelioma remains a challenging disease with generally poor prognosis, and there is a large unmet medical need for new, innovative treatments such as ONCOS-102.”
Phase I and II of the open-label trial added ONCOS-102 to either of the chemotherapy drugs pemetrexed or cisplatin to access safety, immune activation, and clinical success.
Early Trial Results Are Promising
The trial consisted of 31 patients, in which 20 randomly selected patients in the experimental group received both the ONCOS-102 and chemotherapy. The remaining 11 patients in the control group received just chemotherapy.
After 4-5 months of treatment, the first set of study data has been collected, and researchers determined the combination ONCOS-102 and standard chemotherapy was well tolerated. Early results show median Progression-Free Survival was higher in the experimental group than the control group.
Progression-Free Survival is the length of time a patient lives with a disease but it does not get worse. Median survival for participants in the experimental group 8.4 months, while the median survival for participants in the control group was 6.8 months. Researchers expect that the median Progression-Free Survival may change over time.
The results also indicate a positive association between immune activation and clinical outcome in patients, meaning the combination of the treatment with a checkpoint inhibitor shows effective results among participants.
“Although the data are preliminary and still maturing, it is encouraging to see signals of numerically improved median [progression-free survival] in the ONCOS-102-treated group,” Paz-Ares, the lead investigator, stated in the press release.
The next phases of the trial will test the further test the effectiveness and the safety of the treatment. Researchers aim to develop the drug for first-line treatment for diseases like mesothelioma.
According to Dr. Magnus Jäderber, Chief Medical Officer of Targovax, the drug may have found a prospective pharma partner for a future study collaboration.
Trending trials testing treatment for mesothelioma suggests future research will focus on more adenovirus drugs like ONCOS-102. To learn more about mesothelioma treatment, download our free mesothelioma guide.