Agenus (AGEN) Reports Biologics License Application Submission to FDA for Patients with Recurrent or Metastatic Cervical Cancer
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Agenus Inc. (NASDAQ: AGEN), an immuno-oncology company with an extensive pipeline of agents which includes checkpoint antibodies, cell therapies, adjuvants, and vaccines designed to activate immune response to cancers and infections, today announced the submission of a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The BLA has been submitted for the accelerated approval of balstilimab, Agenus’ anti-PD-1 antibody, for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy, and includes data from its pivotal Phase 2 single-arm clinical trial, presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress 2020. These clinical data, along with preclinical data, suggest that balstilimab demonstrates differentiated features from other anti-PD-1 antibodies.
“Women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer have a very poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Data suggest balstilimab may bring benefit to patients beyond what is available in this disease setting today,” said Jennifer Buell, PhD, President and Chief Operating Officer at Agenus. “This submission also marks a significant step in our transition to a commercial company and the advancement of our oncology combination strategy.”
The balstilimab BLA submission is based on an update to data presented at the ESMO Virtual Congress 2020 and published in an Oncogene editorial, which demonstrate that balstilimab shows potential differentiation from other anti-PD-1 antibodies. This updated dataset includes maturation of late patient responses, with the overall data showing response rates of 20% in PD-L1 positive tumors, 15% in all tumors (PD-L1 positive and negative), and a median duration of response of 15.4 months.
“We expect that the potential approval of balstilimab will enable us to better pursue our oncology combination strategy for our own extensive pipeline of agents as well as for existing and future partner products,” said Steven O’Day, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Agenus. “In particular, we hope to use this potential approval to allow us to rapidly proceed with our anti-CTLA-4 combination strategy, which we believe can add significantly to the benefit provided by our anti-PD-1 agent. There are currently limited treatment options available for recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer patients, and our vision is to bring effective treatments to these patients.”
In April 2020, the FDA granted Fast Track designation for balstilimab in recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer based on its potential to provide benefit to patients with a serious condition and unmet medical need.
A global, randomized, Phase 3 confirmatory clinical trial designed to support global registration is planned.
About Cervical Cancer
Nearly 14,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in the United States this year and more than 4,000 are expected to die. Cervical cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer death in women globally, annually killing more than 300,000 women worldwide.1 Despite advances in routine medical examinations and HPV vaccines, cervical cancer remains prevalent. When left undetected, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer often develops, for which there are limited treatment options and a low chance of survival. Current therapies for recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer are limited to a small subset of patients with limited benefit.
Balstilimab is a novel, fully human monoclonal immunoglobulin G4 (IgG4) designed to block PD-1 (programmed cell death protein 1) from interacting with its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2. PD-1 is a negative regulator of immune activation that is considered a foundational target within the immuno-oncology market. Balstilimab is currently in clinical trials as monotherapy and in combination with Agenus’ anti-CTLA-4, zalifrelimab, in an ongoing Phase 2 study for recurrent/metastatic cervical cancer.
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