LYON, France—Today, ERYTECH Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing innovative therapies by encapsulating therapeutic drug substances inside red blood cells, has announced the selection of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) as the next target indication for broadening the scope of eryaspase (trade name GRASPA) development in solid tumors.
L-asparaginase is a cornerstone treatment in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), especially for pediatric patients, but the excessive toxicity of conventional L-asparaginase formulations has limited its use in other indications. ERYTECH’s eryaspase consists of L-asparaginase, encapsulated inside donor-derived red blood cells.
The positive Phase 2b result of eryaspase in metastatic pancreatic cancer, reported in 2017, reportedly represents the first-ever evidence of clinical benefit of an asparaginase-based product in a solid tumor indication. In this 141-patient randomized Phase 2b study, eryaspase in combination with chemotherapy demonstrated a 40% reduction in risk of death rate (HR=0.60; p=0.009) compared to chemotherapy alone.
Following these very encouraging results, ERYTECH conducted a comprehensive evaluation to determine other potential solid-tumor indications for developing eryaspase. Metastatic TNBC has now been selected as the next indication to expand the potential use of eryaspase in solid tumors. TNBC is an aggressive and metabolically active form of breast cancer with high rates of symptomatic metastases.
“TNBC is a heterogenous subgroup of breast cancer associated with poor patient outcome and high risk of recurrence compared to other breast cancer subtypes. Aside from BRCA1/2 mutation status, treatment options for TNBC remain limited,” said Iman El-Hariry, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer of ERYTECH. “There is growing evidence of altered metabolism in TNBC. The evaluation of eryaspase in metastatic TNBC provides a promising new therapeutic approach, which capitalizes on reprogramming of the metabolic pathways in this disease.”
A recent publication in Nature supports the hypothesis that restricting availability of asparagine can reduce metastatic progression of cancer cells in breast cancer. One of the most striking observations from our Phase 2b trial in pancreatic cancer was the 40% reduction of new lesions in the eryaspase arm, compared to the control arm.
Gil Beyen, Chairman and CEO of ERYTECH, added, “The selection of TNBC as the second solid tumor indication for evaluating eryaspase anti-tumor activity brings hope for improving the health of these women. The safety profile of eryaspase provides additional rationale for combination with currently existing therapies to increase treatment options in TNBC.”
The development in TNBC complements ERYTECH's pipeline of programs, which focus on the development of therapies that target amino acid metabolism of tumor cells. Set-up activities of a Phase 2 proof-of-concept clinical study have started, and ERYTECH expects to enroll the first patient in the third quarter of 2018.