Jennerex and Partners Present Positive JX-594 Randomized Phase 2 Clinical Data Showing Promising Survival Benefit in Patients with Advanced Liver Cancer
SAN FRANCISCO and SEATTLE, May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Jennerex, Inc., a private clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focused on the design, development and commercialization of first-in-class targeted oncolytic products for cancer, today presented preliminary data from a randomized dose-ranging Phase 2 trial of JX-594 in patients with advanced liver cancer showing a benefit in overall survival for the high dose group. The preliminary data from the study HEP007 indicated that the risk of death for patients who received JX-594 at the high therapeutic dose was markedly reduced by more than 50 percent (hazard ratio < 0.5) when compared to patients randomized to a control low dose (one-tenth of the high dose). Clinical investigators enrolled approximately 30 patients at sites in the United States, Canada and South Korea.
The data were presented by David Kirn, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Jennerex, today in an oral presentation in the Presidential Symposium of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. These data were also chosen for inclusion in ASGCT's Media Event to be held during the annual meeting. Jennerex and its partners expect to present further follow-up on the complete trial data set at a medical conference later this year.
A randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 2b clinical trial of JX-594 in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) having failed sorafenib-(Nexavar®) treatment is planned for initiation in the second half of this year; this trial (TRAVERSE), conducted globally with Jennerex's partners, will evaluate survival in advanced HCC patients who have either progressed or exhibited intolerance after treatment with sorafenib, the current standard of care.
"We are extremely encouraged by the promising overall survival results presented today. These results are consistent with a clinically meaningful survival benefit in patients with advanced liver cancer. Given the large global unmet need in this patient population, we are confident to proceed into larger late-stage trials in advanced HCC patients with JX-594," stated Dr. Kirn. "If a statistically-significant survival benefit with JX-594 is confirmed in larger randomized trials in HCC patients, JX-594 could represent a major new treatment option for these patients."
JX-594: A Multi-Mechanistic Approach To Targeting Cancer
JX-594 is a proprietary, engineered oncolytic virus that is designed to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. JX-594 is designed to attack cancer through three diverse mechanisms of action: 1) the lysis of cancer cells through viral replication, 2) the reduction of the blood supply to tumors through vascular targeting and destruction, and 3) the stimulation of the body's immune response against cancer cells, i.e., active immunotherapy. Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials in multiple cancer types to date have shown that JX-594, delivered either directly into tumors or systemically, induces tumor shrinkage and/or necrosis and is well-tolerated by patients (over 100 treated to date). Objective tumor responses have been demonstrated in a variety of cancers including liver, colon, kidney, lung and melanoma. JX-594 has a favorable safety profile with predictable and generally mild side effects that typically include flu-like symptoms that resolve in 48 to 72 hours.
The poxvirus strain backbone of JX-594 has been used safely in millions of people as part of a worldwide vaccination program. This strain naturally targets cancer cells due to common genetic defects in cancer cells. JX-594 was engineered to enhance this natural safety and cancer-selectivity by deleting its thymidine kinase (TK) gene, thus making it dependent on the cellular TK expressed at persistently high levels in cancer cells. To enhance product efficacy, JX-594 is also engineered to express the GM-CSF protein. GM-CSF complements the cancer cell lysis work of the product candidate, leading to a cascade of events resulting in tumor necrosis, tumor vasculature shutdown and an anti-tumoral immune attack.
Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Global Unmet Need
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer death, with over 600,000 new cases diagnosed annually resulting in more than 90 percent mortality. The annual incidence rate in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China are estimated to be 20,000, 55,000, 40,000 and 350,000 patients, respectively. Currently, there is only one approved agent for HCC, a drug called sorafenib (Nexavar®), which is associated with moderate efficacy (tumor response rate of <5%) and a side effect profile that has resulted in discontinuation of use in some patients.
About Jennerex's Partners for JX-594
Transgene (NYSE Euronext Paris: FR0005175080), a bio-pharmaceutical company specialized in the development of immunotherapeutic products, holds an exclusive license to develop and commercialize JX-594 in Europe and neighboring countries. Green Cross Corporation, a leading company in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of viral vaccines and other biological products, holds an exclusive license to develop and commercialize JX-594 in South Korea, and Lee's Pharmaceutical Ltd. holds an exclusive license to develop and commercialize JX-594 in China.
Transgene, a member of the Institut Merieux Group, is a publicly traded French biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of therapeutic vaccines and immunotherapeutic products in oncology and infectious diseases, and has five compounds in clinical development: TG4010 and JX-594 (TG6006) having completed initial phase II trials, TG4001 in phase IIb trial, TG4040 in phase II trial and TG4023 in phase I trial. Transgene has concluded strategic agreements for the development of two of its immunotherapy products, an option agreement with Novartis for the development of TG4010 to treat various cancers, and an in-licensing agreement with U.S.-based Jennerex Biotherapeutics, Inc., to develop and market JX-594 (TG6006), an oncolytic product. Transgene has bio-manufacturing capacities for viral-based products. Additional information about Transgene is available on the internet at www.transgene.fr
Green Cross Corp. is a publicly traded and leading Korean biopharmaceutical company specialized in development and commercialization of vaccines, plasma-derivatives, recombinant proteins and therapeutic antibodies in oncology and infectious diseases. Green Cross Corp. has been collaborating with Jennerex in Korea since 2006 to jointly conduct the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in patients with liver cancer. Additional information about Green Cross Corp. is available on the internet at www.greencross.com.
Lee's Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited is a public biopharmaceutical company with over 16 years operation in China's pharmaceutical industry. It is fully integrated with solid infrastructures in drug development, clinical development, regulatory, manufacturing, sales and marketing in China with global perspectives and currently markets nine products. Lee's Pharma focuses on several different areas such as cardiovascular and infectious diseases, dermatology, oncology, gynecology and others. It has more than 30 products under different development stages stemming from both internal R&D as well as from the recent acquisition of licensing and distribution rights from various U.S. and European companies. The mission of Lee's is to become a successful biopharmaceutical group in Asia providing innovative products to fight diseases and improve health and quality of life. Additional information about Lee's Pharma is available on the internet at www.leespharm.com.
Jennerex, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focused on the development and commercialization of first-in-class, breakthrough targeted oncolytic products for cancer. The Company's lead product JX-594 is currently in two Phase 2 clinical trials in patients with primary liver cancer—an international, randomized, Phase 2 clinical trial, and a Phase 2 study of JX-594 in combination with sorafenib. Published studies designed to establish optimal dose levels and the safety profile of JX-594 have shown its ability to selectively target and cause destruction of a variety of common cancer types. JX-594 and other product candidates under development are designed to attack cancer tumors through three diverse mechanisms of action: the lysis of cancer cells through viral replication, the ablation of the blood supply to tumors through vascular targeting and destruction and the stimulation of the body's immune response against the cancer. Jennerex is headquartered in San Francisco and has related research and development operations in Ottawa, Canada and Pusan, South Korea. For more information about Jennerex, please visit www.jennerex.com.
SOURCE Jennerex, Inc.