Issue: April 2017, Posted Date: 4/18/2017

Pipeline Drug Offers Promise in Treatment of Platinum-Resistant Ovarian Cancer

Mirvetuximab soravtansine, a drug currently being trialed by ImmunoGen, has the potential to solve a major unmet medical need for patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.


As explored in the company’s latest ovarian cancer report, once a patient becomes resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy regimens, the efficacy and duration of response with current treatment options are highly limited and demonstrate modest activity at best. Earlier in 2017, ImmunoGen announced that the first patient was dosed in its pivotal Phase III study that investigates mirvetuximab soravtansine as a single agent treatment in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, thereby positioning its novel antibody-drug conjugate well within the late-stage pipeline.


Marc C. Hansel, PhD, Senior Healthcare Analyst for GlobalData, explains “Mirvetuximab soravtansine is an anti-body drug conjugate that selectively targets cells expressing folate receptor alpha (FRA) and delivers its cytotoxic payload, DM4, to kill cells. Unlike previous FRA antibodies, ImmunoGen’s asset doesn’t solely rely on a patient’s immune system to kill cancer cells. This small detail is important, especially in heavily treated patients whose immune systems can be compromised due to previous drug treatments and their overall health status. Furthermore, the FRA pathway is not important for ovarian cancer cell survival, so even if it is blocked, the cancer still grows.”


ImmunoGen’s long-term growth prospects in the ovarian cancer space are bolstered by early stage investigations looking to improve single agent mirvetuximab soravtansine’s activity by combining it with Roche/Genentech’s approved ovarian cancer angiogenesis inhibitor, Avastin (bevacizumab); Merck’s immune checkpoint inhibitor, Keytruda (pembrolizumab); the first-line standard of care chemotherapy carboplatin; and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin.


These combinations are being investigated in the ongoing Phase Ib/II FORWARD II trial. Their anticipated increased efficacy compared to the single agent regimen and current standards of care could firmly entrench mirvetuximab soravtansine earlier in the treatment paradigm, especially if the combinations are well tolerated.


Hansel concludes “ImmunoGen has a lot of work ahead, but the future is bright for its novel antibody-drug conjugate, which could simultaneously solve a major problem for platinum-resistant recurrent ovarian cancer patients and represent a major victory for the precision medicine movement.”


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