AstraZeneca launches phase 3 study of NSCLC immunotherapy

On the heels of rebuking merger offers from Pfizer, AstraZeneca announced in a press release it is moving forward with the phase 3 PACIFIC trial of a lung cancer immunotherapy drug.

The drug, MEDI4736, is a human monoclonal antibody directed against programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1). The drug, still in development, targets the PD-L1/PD-1 pathway for the treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) by blocking signals which allow PD-L1 to escape detection by the immune system.

Researchers plan to enroll 702 participants at over 100 sites around the world to test the efficacy of the drug on PFS and OS vs. placebo among patients with locally advanced, unresectable NSCLC following chemoradiotherapy, according to the press release.

Briggs Morrison, MD, executive vice president of global medicines development and chief medical officer at AstraZeneca, said in the release, “Lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer; there is a clear need for more treatment options to provide patients with a better chance of beating the disease. We believe MEDI4736, and immunotherapies more broadly, hold the potential to shape the future of cancer treatment.”

Morrison said the move will strengthen the company.

“MEDI4736 is an important molecule in our immuno-oncology portfolio and its entry into phase 3 clinical trials is further evidence of our commitment to invest in distinctive science in our core therapy areas, and to rapidly progress our immuno-oncology pipeline.”