Industry News: QBiotics announces clinical collaboration with MSD targeting unresectable melanoma

28 Aug 2020


QBiotics Group Limited (QGL), a life sciences company developing novel anticancer and wound healing pharmaceuticals, has announced that it has entered into an agreement with MSD (tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA), to evaluate use of its lead molecule tigilanol tiglate, in combination with Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) in patients with unresectable melanoma.

Dr Victoria Gordon, Managing Director and CEO of QBiotics, said, "We are delighted to announce this collaboration with MSD. Patients with unresectable melanoma who have received prior checkpoint inhibitors currently have limited effective treatment options. Through this program we hope to see that when combined, tigilanol tiglate and Keytruda may produce additive anti-tumor immune responses, and improve outcomes for patients."

The Phase I/II open label 'QBC46-H06' study is a dose escalation and expansion study with the primary objective of determining the maximum tolerated dose or maximum feasible dose of the combination therapy. Secondary measures include assessing tumor responses in both injected tumors and uninjected tumors, as well as clinical efficacy parameters. Patients with unresectable melanoma and who have had exposure to immune checkpoint inhibitors are eligible for the study.

Dr Gordon continued, "This study follows on from encouraging Phase I data where tigilanol tiglate as a monotherapy showed a 27% treatment response rate*, including an 18% complete response with full tumor destruction across a wide variety of solid tumor types(2). Two patients with melanoma that had complete responses also had an abscopal (anenestic) response. Melanoma is the second human application we are pursuing for tigilanol tiglate following on from our Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) which commenced in December 2019".

Tigilanol tiglate is a small molecule administered by intratumoural injection directly into the solid tumor mass. Once injected, it has a multi-modal action including (i) rapid, but highly localized, inflammatory responses, (ii) increased permeability and destruction of tumor vascular endothelium, and (iii) rapid tumor cell death by oncosis(1).

*27% treatment response rate (n=6); 18% complete response rate (n=4)(2).

References

  1. Boyle et al., (2014) Intra-tumoral injection of the novel PKC activator EBC-46 rapidly ablates tumors in mouse models. PLoS One 9:e1068887. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108887.
  2. Panizza et al., (2019) Phase I dose-escalation study to determine the safety, tolerability, preliminary efficacy and pharmacokinetics of an intra tumoral injection of tigilanol tiglate (EBC-46). EBioMedicine 50: 433-441.

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