AstraZeneca, Pharmacyclics and Janssen R&D have entered into a clinical trial collaboration to evaluate the efficacy and safety of AstraZeneca's investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, MEDI4736, in combination with imbruvica (ibrutinib), an oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor, co-developed and co-commercialized by Pharmacyclics and Janssen Biotech. The study will assess the combination as a treatment for patients with hematologic cancers including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma, which are investigational uses for both compounds.
MEDI4736 blocks the signals that help tumors avoid detection by the immune system, countering the tumor's immune-evading tactics. Ibrutinib blocks signals that tell malignant B cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies) to multiply and spread uncontrollably. Preclinical evidence suggests that the combination of these two agents may lead to an enhanced anti-tumor immune response.
The phase I part of the trial is expected to establish a recommended dose regimen for the combination of MEDI4736 and ibrutinib, and the phase II part will assess the safety and efficacy of the investigational combination. The trial will be conducted by Pharmacyclics. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
Briggs Morrison, executive vice president, global medicines development and chief medical officer, AstraZeneca, said, "We are committed to progressing our strong immuno-oncology pipeline as rapidly as possible. Our partnership with Pharmacyclics and Janssen supports our exploration of the potential of anti-PD-L1 in hematological cancers and is further evidence of our belief that combination therapies have the potential to be one of the most effective ways of treating cancer."
"Cancer drug development is at one of its most exciting, productive periods in history," said Peter Lebowitz, M.D., Ph.D., global oncology head, Janssen. "This collaboration reflects the common goal of all three companies to better understand new treatment options and combinations—with the ultimate goal of making a difference to the lives of people with hematologic malignancies."