Galena Biopharma Announces Department of Defense Grant for NeuVax Clinical Trial
Galena Biopharma (Nasdaq: GALE), a biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing innovative, targeted oncology treatments that address major unmet medical needs to advance cancer care, today announced the Department of Defense (DoD) will provide funding towards a new clinical trial with NeuVax to prevent breast cancer recurrence in high-risk HER2 3+ patients. The grant, a Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Breakthrough Award, was obtained by Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center who will oversee the investigator-sponsored trial. Galena will support the trial with study drug and funding and will have access to the research to support ongoing registrational studies.
"Receipt of this grant from the Department of Defense for a new clinical trial is a significant validation of the potential utility of NeuVax in a variety of cancer settings," said Mark J. Ahn, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Galena Biopharma. "This trial significantly expands the breast cancer patient population for NeuVax, adding women who are HER2 3+ to our ongoing trials in the HER2 1+ and 2+ patients. We are excited to work with Dr. Mittendorf and her team to advance this trial that is expected to initiate in the second half of 2014."
The protocol for the multi-center, prospective, randomized, single-blinded Phase 2 trial is being finalized and is expected to enroll approximately 100 patients with a diagnosis of HER2 3+ breast cancer who are HLA A2+ or HLA A3+ and are determined to be at high-risk for recurrence. High-risk is defined as having received neoadjuvant therapy with an approved regimen that includes trastuzumab but not obtaining a pathological complete response at surgery, or those who undergo surgery as a first intervention and are found to be pathologically node-positive. These high-risk patients are known to have higher recurrence rates than other HER2 3+ breast cancer patients. Eligible patients will be randomized to receive NeuVax + GM-CSF (granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor) + trastuzumab or trastuzumab + GM-CSF alone. The primary endpoint of the study is disease-free survival.
"Based on other encouraging studies using NeuVax and Herceptin in other treatment settings, this study explores this promising combination approach of complimentary targeted agents in clinically high-risk HER2 3+, or positive, patients," added Dr. Mittendorf.
The grant was awarded through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), funded through the Department of Defense (DoD), via annual Congressional legislation known as the Defense Appropriations Act.
About NeuVax™ (nelipepimut-S)
NeuVax™ (nelipepimut-S) is the immunodominant nonapeptide derived from the extracellular domain of the HER2 protein, a well-established target for therapeutic intervention in breast carcinoma. The nelipepimut-S sequence stimulates specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) following binding to HLA-A2/A3 molecules on antigen presenting cells (APC). These activated specific CTLs recognize, neutralize and destroy, through cell lysis, HER2 expressing cancer cells, including occult cancer cells and micrometastatic foci. The nelipepimut immune response can also generate CTLs to other immunogenic peptides through inter- and intra-antigenic epitope spreading. Based on a successful Phase 2 trial, which achieved its primary endpoint of disease-free survival (DFS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted NeuVax a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) for its Phase 3 PRESENT (Prevention of Recurrence in Early-Stage, Node-Positive Breast Cancer with Low to Intermediate HER2 Expression with NeuVax Treatment) study. The PRESENT trial is ongoing and additional information on the study can be found at www.neuvax.com. A randomized, multicenter investigator sponsored, 300 patient Phase 2b clinical trial is also enrolling patients to study NeuVax in combination with Herceptin® (trastuzumab; Genentech/Roche).
According to the National Cancer Institute, over 230,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. Of these women, only about 25% are HER2 positive (IHC 3+). NeuVax targets the approximately 50%-60% of these women who are HER2 low to intermediate (IHC 1+/2+ or FISH < 2.0) and achieve remission with current standard of care, but have no available HER2-targeted adjuvant treatment options to maintain their disease-free status.
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