Another example of how #biomarkers can rescue the pharma pipeline and support drug value– The story of Amgen’s MAb and Roche’s Avastin

Amgen had put aside the monoclonal antibody, rilotumumab, which was being developed for the treatment of gastric cancer and is an Ab for the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). The experimental biologic was acquired in the Immunex purchase for $16 billion in cash and stork in 2001, but because of concerns in improvements in survival the project was put aside. The company has now presented data to the ASCO which identified that the antibody helped a subgroup of patients with a high level of the biomarker c-Met, improve their overall survival when given chemotherapy. The receptor tyrosine kinase c-MET binds to the ligand, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and regulates cellular mechanisms which stimulate cell proliferation, invasion and angiogenesis. High frequencies of c-MET and/or HGF overexpression is associated with gastric & kidney carcinomas but also non-small cell lung , ovarian, pancreatic, thyroid, breast, head & neck and colon carcinomas. As recent studies have  shown inhibition of c-MET receptor activity is certainly emerging as an important target site for personalised cancer therapy and its not surprising that a study of rilotumumab, an Ab for its ligand HGF, has detected this biomarker in patient response.

A study published in Lancet Oncology by a group of Belgian researchers has found that a subgroup of people with pancreatic and kidney cancer, who have a certain locus in VEGFR1 which correlates with increased VEGFR1 expression, had a poor outcome to bevacizumab (Avastin).Further assessments are underway to confirm the predictive value of this novel biomarker, which will be highly valued as no current test is available to select from patients in the treatment of Avastin.

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