SINGAPORE, Jan. 14, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — ASLAN Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ASLN, TPEx:6497), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company targeting cancers that are both highly prevalent in Asia and orphan indications in the United States and Europe, today announced an update on its global placebo-controlled, double-blind phase 2 clinical study of varlitinib as a first-line therapy in HER1/HER2 co-expressing advanced or metastatic gastric cancer patients, comparing varlitinib plus mFOLFOX6 to placebo plus mFOLFOX6. In the recently completed study, varlitinib did not meet the primary endpoint of significant reductions in tumour size after 12 weeks of treatment.
Based on independent central review, patients treated with varlitinib plus mFOLFOX6 had an average tumour shrinkage of 22.0% after 12 weeks compared to 12.5% for patients treated with mFOLFOX6 alone. This difference did not reach statistical significance. Upon review of 17 progression free survival (PFS) events to date, there was a trend towards an improvement in PFS in patients treated with varlitinib.
Overall patient characteristics were well-balanced between the two arms with the exception of baseline ECOG status. The proportion of patients with the best performance status (ECOG of 0) was substantially higher in the control arm (46.2%) than in the varlitinib arm (19.2%).
Varlitinib in combination with mFOLFOX6 was very well-tolerated with 73.1% of patients taking varlitinib experiencing a grade 3 or higher adverse event compared to 88.5% of patients taking mFOLFOX6 alone.
Dr Mark McHale, Chief Operating Officer, ASLAN Pharmaceuticals, said:”First-line gastric cancer is a very challenging indication to treat and the majority of patients present with advanced disease at initial diagnosis. To date, no targeted therapies have been approved to treat gastric cancer with low HER-family expression. Whilst we are disappointed by the study findings, we are encouraged by the positive safety data and remain confident that varlitinib’s potent pan-HER inhibition has the potential to yield benefits in biliary tract cancer where HER family expression is known to be high. We look forward to presenting the upcoming data in first-line biliary tract cancer at ASCO GI later this week and delivering topline data from our pivotal TreeTopp study in second-line biliary tract cancer which is expected in the second half of 2019.”
ASLAN will continue to analyse data from this study, working with study investigators on the future publication of these results, and will focus on development in biliary tract cancer and other indications where varlitinib has shown activity.