Syndax Pharma Study Offers Clues that Lung Cancer Treatment Could Benefit Subset of Patients

Xconomy Boston — 

Waltham, MA-based Syndax Pharmaceuticals is reporting data from a mid-stage clinical trial that indicate its lead compound might improve the effectiveness of an existing lung cancer drug, at least for a subpopulation of patients.

The company, co-founded by members of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, in 2005, conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II clinical trial of its treatment in 132 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. When the researchers looked at all patients in the study together, those treated with a combination treatment of its molecule, entinostat, and the blockbuster lung cancer drug erlotinib (Tarceva) did not have any longer progression-free survival those who received a combination of erlotinib and a placebo, according to the company. But in the 26 patients who had high levels of a protein called E-cadherin, the Syndax combo was associated with median survival of 9.4 months, versus 5.4 months in those patients who were on erlotinib and placebo.

Syndax’s strategy in clinical trials has been to test entinostat in combination with existing cancer drugs. The lead molecule is intended to block so-called epigenetic enzymes, essentially aiming to reprogram a patient’s tumor to be more receptive to other drugs to which the cancer might not otherwise respond. At least in the specific sub-group patients in its mid-stage clinical trial with erlotinib, the strategy appeared to work. Next year Syndax is expected to report data from a 125-patient mid-stage study of how well its drug improves treatment of advanced breast tumors in combination with the hormone therapy exemestane (Aromasin).

While the findings from the lung cancer study will need to be … Next Page »

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