A study that looked at its effectiveness in treating lung cancer failed to meet its goals.
Specifically, the treatment of canakinumab in combination with the chemotherapy drug docetaxel showed no improvement in overall survival in patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the company announced on Tuesday. According to the information, 237 patients were examined in the CANOPY-2 study.
The results are not what one had hoped for, the message continues. The data from the studies would also provide valuable insights into the world of interleukin-1beta, which canakinumab is supposed to neutralize.
The development program for canakinumab will therefore be continued, as Novartis emphasizes. Ongoing phase III studies in non-small cell lung cancer would continue to evaluate canakinumab in earlier treatment settings.
Specifically, the results of the phase III CANOPY-1 study will probably be available this year, and a study called CANOPY-A is also ongoing to investigate the active ingredient as a so-called adjuvant therapy.
New approach to treatment
As John Tsai, Head Global Drug Development, points out in an interview with AWP, Novartis’ studies have taken a new approach to cancer treatment. There is preliminary evidence that canakinumab inhibits pro-tumor inflammation (PTI). This could then improve the anti-tumor immune response while preventing tumor cells from multiplying and surviving, Tsai said.
“As the current study data show, this does not work in patients in whom the tumor is already as advanced as in the CANOPY-2 study,” adds the scientist. How canakinumab performs as a first-line therapy will probably be seen before a year, because then the data from the CANOPY-1 study are expected.
Analysts react differently to the news. For example, Peter Welford of Jefferies writes that he did not build great opportunities into the use of the drug in the treatment of lung cancer. However, Novartis urgently needs reports of success from the pipeline.
Keyur Parkeh from Goldman Sachs sees the news as a bit of a disappointment. He sees the greater potential in the CANOPY-1 study anyway, since the candidate will be used there as a first-line therapy.
Mirabaud analyst Olav Zilian says he is disappointed and will have to adjust his estimates sooner or later.
The stock exchange is also reacting with a huff, as the price losses of 1.31 percent to CHF 77.83 in the morning show. At the same time, the leading SMI index is trading 0.54 percent lower.