Zai Lab Announces First Patient Treated in PANOVA-3 Phase 3 Pivotal Trial of Tumor Treating Fields in Pancreatic Cancer

Zai Lab Limited recently announced treatment of the first patient in Greater China in the PANOVA-3 trial, a Phase 3 pivotal trial of Tumor Treating Fields in patients with pancreatic cancer.

“Pancreatic cancer is a common, highly aggressive form of gastrointestinal cancer, with an estimated five-year survival rate of only about 7% in China,” said Alan Sandler, MD, President, Head of Global Development, Oncology, at Zai Lab. “As the majority of cases have progressed to an advanced stage, there remains an urgent clinical need for more effective treatment options. Tumor Treating Fields has already been approved in the U.S. for glioblastoma and mesothelioma and in China for glioblastoma, and we believe that it represents a promising therapeutic approach for patients with pancreatic cancer as well.”

PANOVA-3 is a global, open-label, randomized Phase 3 trial evaluating the efficacy of Tumor Treating Fields administered concomitantly with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel as front-line treatment for patients with unresectable, locally advanced pancreatic cancer. The trial is expected to enroll approximately 556 patients. The primary endpoint is overall survival. Secondary endpoints include progression-free survival, local progression-free survival, objective response rate, one-year survival rate, quality of life, pain-free survival, resectability rate, and toxicity.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most common and deadliest cancers globally. In China, there are an estimated 124,994 new cases per year, according to World Cancer Report 2020, and it is now the eighth most common cancer type. The current median survival of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer is four to six months, and the five-year survival rate was 7.2%, making it the malignancy with the lowest survival rate in China.

There is an urgent need to improve the clinical outcomes of pancreatic cancer treatment. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose in early stages, as the disease does not cause easily detectable symptoms because of the location of the pancreas deep within the abdomen. Fewer than 20% of patients are eligible for surgical resection, which is the only potentially curative therapy. Even after radical surgery, many patients have disease recurrence. For patients with unresectable locally advanced or remotely metastasized pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy is still the primary treatment, and median post-treatment survival is less than one year.

Tumor Treating Fields, or TTFields, are electric fields that disrupt cancer cell division. Fundamental scientific research on TTFields extends across more than two decades and, in all preclinical research to date, TTFields have demonstrated a consistent anti-mitotic effect. TTFields are intended principally for use together with other standard-of-care cancer treatments. There is a growing body of evidence that supports TTFields’ broad applicability with certain other cancer therapies, including radiation therapy, certain chemotherapies and certain immunotherapies. In clinical research and commercial experience to date, TTFields has exhibited no systemic toxicity, with mild to moderate skin irritation being the most common side effect. The TTFields global development program includes a network of preclinical collaborators and a broad range of clinical trials across all phases, including four phase 3 pivotal trials in a variety of tumor types. To date, more than 20,000 patients have been treated with TTFields.

Zai Lab is a patient-focused, innovative, commercial-stage, global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing therapies that address medical conditions with unmet needs in oncology, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, and neuroscience. To that end, our experienced team has secured partnerships with leading global biopharmaceutical companies in order to generate a broad pipeline of innovative marketed products and product candidates. We have also built an in-house team with strong product discovery and translational research capabilities and are establishing a pipeline of proprietary product candidates with global rights. Our vision is to become a leading global biopharmaceutical company, discovering, developing, manufacturing, and commercializing our portfolio in order to impact human health worldwide. For more information, visit