BURLINGTON, Mass., Sept. 08, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ArQule, Inc. (Nasdaq:ARQL) today announced that additional analyses of plasma biomarkers support the prognostic and predictive role of MET status in this previously reported phase 2 trial in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The data was presented at the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) 9th Annual Conference on September 6th, 2015.
The phase 2 study, completed in the third quarter of 2011 and published in The Lancet Oncology medical journal in November 2012, enrolled 107 HCC patients who progressed or were intolerant to one prior systemic therapy. Multiple biomarkers were evaluated as part of the study, and MET status as determined by immunohistochemistry emerged as the strongest predictor of tivantinib benefit. In addition, the presentation noted that biopsies were more likely to be categorized as MET-high when taken after sorafenib therapy than before therapy. The presentation can be accessed in the “Investor and Media” section of our website, www.arqule.com, under “Recent Data Presentations.”
“The biomarker data from this trial demonstrates that patients with MET-high tumors are more likely to benefit from tivantinib therapy,” said Dr. Brian Schwartz, head of research and development at ArQule. “On the basis of the results from the phase 2 trial and in partnership with Daiichi Sankyo, we are conducting the pivotal phase 3 METIV-HCC trial that is enrolling MET-high HCC patients as determined by a required companion diagnostic test.”
By the end of 2015 the pivotal phase 3 trial, METIV-HCC, is expected to complete enrollment of approximately 300 patients, randomized 2:1 treatment to best supportive care, with the primary end-point of overall survival.
About hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
Globally, liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer according to the World Cancer Research Fund International (782,000 new cases in 2012) and is the second cause of cancer related death (746,000 deaths in 2012). HCC accounts for about 90 percent of primary liver cancers. Cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B and C and smoking are recognized worldwide as factors increasing the risk of HCC.
About MET and tivantinib (ARQ 197)
Tivantinib is an orally administered, selective inhibitor of MET, a receptor tyrosine kinase, which is currently in Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials. In healthy adult cells, MET can be present in normal levels to support natural cellular function, but in cancer cells, MET can be inappropriately and continuously activated. When abnormally activated, MET plays multiple roles in aspects of human cancer, including cancer cell growth, survival, angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis. The activation of certain cell signaling pathways, including MET, has also been associated with the development of resistance to anti-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) antibodies such as cetuximab and panitumumab.
Pre-clinical data have demonstrated that tivantinib inhibits MET activation in a range of human tumor cell lines and shows anti-tumor activity against several human tumor xenografts. In clinical trials to date, treatment with tivantinib has been generally well tolerated and has shown clinical activity in the tumors studied. Tivantinib has not yet been approved for any indication in any country.
In December 2008, ArQule and Daiichi Sankyo signed a license, co-development and co-commercialization agreement for tivantinib in the U.S., Europe, South America and the rest of the world, excluding Japan, China (including Hong Kong), South Korea and Taiwan.
ArQule is a biotechnology company engaged in the research and development of next-generation, small-molecule cancer therapeutics. The Company’s targeted, broad-spectrum products and research programs are focused on key biological processes that are central to human cancers. ArQule’s lead product, in Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical development, is tivantinib (ARQ 197), an oral, selective inhibitor of the c-MET receptor tyrosine kinase. The Company’s pipeline includes: ARQ 092, designed to inhibit the AKT serine/threonine kinase; ARQ 087, a multi-kinase inhibitor designed to preferentially inhibit the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family; and ARQ 761, a Beta lapachone analog being evaluated as a promoter of NQ01-mediated programmed cancer cell necrosis. ArQule’s current discovery efforts are focused on the identification of novel kinase inhibitors, leveraging the Company’s proprietary library of compounds.
This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding the Company’s clinical trials with tivantinib (ARQ 197). These statements are based on the Company’s current beliefs and expectations, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. Positive information about pre-clinical and early stage clinical trial results does not ensure that later stage or larger scale clinical trials will be successful. For example, tivantinib may not demonstrate promising therapeutic effect or appropriate safety profiles in current or later stage or larger scale clinical trials as a result of known or as yet unanticipated side effects. The results achieved in later stage trials may not be sufficient to meet applicable regulatory standards or to justify further development. Problems or delays may arise prior to the initiation of planned clinical trials, during clinical trials or in the course of developing, testing or manufacturing that could lead the Company or its partners and collaborators to fail to initiate or to discontinue development. Even if later stage clinical trials are successful, unexpected concerns may arise from subsequent analysis of data or from additional data. Obstacles may arise or issues may be identified in connection with review of clinical data with regulatory authorities. Regulatory authorities may disagree with the Company’s view of the data or require additional data or information or additional studies. In addition, the planned timing of initiation and completion of clinical trials for tivantinib is subject to the ability of the Company as well as Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., our development partner for tivantinib, and Kyowa Hakko Kirin, a licensee of tivantinib, to enroll patients, enter into agreements with clinical trial sites and investigators, and overcome technical hurdles and other issues related to the conduct of the trials for which each of them is responsible. There is a risk that these issues may not be successfully resolved. In addition, we and our partners are utilizing companion diagnostic tests to identify MET-high patients in the METIV-HCC, JET-HCC and other trials. We may encounter difficulties in developing and obtaining approval for companion diagnostics, including issues relating to selectivity/specificity, analytical validation, reproducibility, or clinical validation. Any delay or failure by our collaborators or us to develop or obtain regulatory approval of the companion diagnostics could delay or prevent approval of our product candidates. Drug development involves a high degree of risk. Only a small number of research and development programs result in the commercialization of a product. Positive pre-clinical data may not be supported in later stages of development. Furthermore, ArQule may not have the financial or human resources to successfully pursue drug discovery in the future. Moreover, with respect to partnered programs, even if certain compounds show initial promise, Daiichi Sankyo or Kyowa Hakko Kirin may decide not to license or continue to develop them, as the case may be. In addition, Daiichi Sankyo and Kyowa Hakko Kirin have certain rights to unilaterally terminate their agreements with ArQule. If either company were to do so, the Company might not be able to complete development and commercialization of the applicable licensed products on its own. For more detailed information on the risks and uncertainties associated with the Company’s drug development and other activities, see the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements.
Contact: Dawn Schottlandt Sr. Director, Investor Relations/ Corp. Communications (781) 994-0300 www.arqule.com