FDA, Cancer Vaccine Updates and a Misguiding of Breast Cancer Treatment


One cancer vaccine may still be years away from being available, a breast cancer test may be misguiding treatments for Black women and the review of two oncology regimens are being expedited by the FDA.

Last week, we saw some research regarding how a popular tool used to plan breast cancer treatment may be misguiding therapy for Black women, as well as an update on when we can expect to see a new cancer vaccine be readily available for patients.

And on the FDA front, we’ll discuss a priority review for Enhertu for patients with HER2-positive solid cancers, as well as a fast track designation for a new drug duo in the lung cancer space.

Topics discussed:

  • 0:29 One cancer vaccine is still years away from being available.
  • 3:44 A test may be misguiding breast cancer treatment for Black women.
  • 5:22 FDA granted a priority review to Enhertu for HER2-positive cancers.
  • 7:32 FDA granted a fast track designaton to avutometinib plus Lumakras for lung cancer.

Cancer Vaccine Likely ‘Several Years’ Away From Wide Availability

ELI-002 is a vaccine being investigated for the treatment of patients with KRAS-mutant pancreatic or colorectal cancers. While cancer vaccines have been in the headlines a lot in recent months, this one, at least, is still a ways away from being readily available for patients across the United States.

Findings from a phase 1 trial showed that the vaccine could be beneficial for this patient population, and now, a phase 2 trial recently started that will evaluate the efficacy of an injection version of ELI-002, compared to observation. The first patient was dosed in the trial in January 2024, so it could still be several more years until the drug is available, Dr. Christopher Haqq, chief medical officer and vice president, head of research and development at Elicio Therapeutics, said in an interview with CURE®.

“We'll be talking to the regulators like the US Food and Drug Administration and others around the world to align on the data that we'll need to provide for a marketing application. And so, we haven't had that input yet. So I can't give an exact answer for you (on when the vaccine will be commercially available). But we'll work as fast as possible. It's even possible that the type of evidence that we gather in this randomized study could serve that purpose. But we won't know until we have further discussion,” he said.

Test May Be ‘Misguiding’ Breast Cancer Treatment for Black Women

A recent study showed that the 21-gene breast recurrence score may lead clinicians away from prescribing chemotherapy to Black women who may benefit from the treatment.

The 21-gene breast recurrence score is the standard test to help guide treatment decisions for patients with estrogen receptor-positive (also known as ER-positive) disease. Most patients with ER-positive cancer undergo hormone therapy, but the outcomes for this test may help decide if a patient would benefit from additional chemotherapy, too. Now, findings from a recent study discovered that Black women — and younger Black women, in particular — may be missing out on chemotherapy that they could potentially benefit from.

Now, this research team is conducting further research looking at potential molecular differences in breast cancer in Black women, as well as how other social disparities could be playing into an increased risk of breast cancer death in these women.

FDA Grants Priority Review to Enhertu for HER2-Positive Solid Cancers

The Food and Drug Administration granted a priority review for a supplemental biologics license to Enhertu for the treatment of patients with previously treated metastatic HER2-positive solid tumors that cannot be removed via surgery. Basically what that means is that the drug showed promise in a clinical trial, and now the FDA will work with the pharmaceutical company developing the drug to expedite the review and potential approval of the agent. The agency plans on making its decision on whether or not Enertu will be approved some time in the second quarter of this year.

Enertu is an antibody drug conjugate, which is a type of drug that works by finding and binding to certain proteins found on cancer cells — in this case, the HER2 protein. The drug was previously approved for patients with lung cancer and metastatic breast cancer, and now, the phase 2 DESTINY-PanTumo02 trial will help determine if it will be approved for patients with endometrial, cervical, ovarian, bladder, biliary tract, pancreatic or other cancers that are HER2 positive.

FDA Grants Fast Track Designation to Avutometinib-Lumakras Combo

Also in the regulatory space, the FDA granted a fast track designation to a two drug combination consisting of Lumakras and the novel agent, avutometinib for patients with KRAS G12C-mutant metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The intended patient population for the regimen is those who have been treated with at least one systemic therapy and have not received a KRAS G12C inhibitor.

The regimen is being investigated in the ongoing phase 1/2 RAMP 203 trial, which will analyze the effectiveness of the drug, as well as the overall response rate — which is the percentage of patients whose cancer decreases from the drug — and safety. Findings from the second phase of the trial, which is specifically looking at patients who have not received or did not respond to a KRAS G12-inhibitor are expected to be published some time in the first half of 2024.

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