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AbbVie’s experimental cancer drug hits wall in clinical study

Published on 20/04/17 at 10:25am

AbbVie have released that two Phase 3 trials of its experimental cancer drug, veliparib, missed both of their primary endpoints. Veliparib is part of a new wave of drugs called PARP inhibitors and AbbVie were investigating whether it could improve overall survival in cancer patients.

The study was conducted on patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer and triple negative breast cancer. In particular, the participants were those who had smoked in the past 12 months and had more than 100 ‘smoking events’ in their lifetime. Veliparib was used in conjunction with the chemotherapy regimen carboplatin and paclitaxel.

"Research shows there is a role for PARP inhibitors in cancers associated with DNA repair deficits, such as those with BRCA mutations. In these clinical trials, we wanted to explore whether a PARP inhibitor could augment chemotherapy in patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer and triple negative breast cancer by disrupting the repair of cancer cells," said Gary Gordon, Vice President, Oncology Clinical Development, AbbVie. "Unfortunately, these data do not support the use of veliparib in combination with chemotherapy in these patients."

The hope for AbbVie was that it could catch up with AstraZeneca, Tesaro and Clovis, as a company that could offer a PARP inhibitor as a form of treatment. Only last month, AZ were able to post Phase 3 results that showed its PARP inhibitor, Lynparza, was effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer – opening up the possibility for a further indication for the drug.

AbbVie’s drug continues to go through trials but the news of its failure will not fill investors with confidence. The company has said that it will release the full details of the drug’s failure in due course.

Ben Hargreaves

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