Bristol-Myers Squibb and AbbVie Team Up on Cancer Trials

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The companies will test the efficacy of Rova-T in combination with Opdivo, and Opdivo + Yervoy as a treatment for extensive-stage small cell lung cancer.

Drugmakers AbbVie and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will be teaming up to evaluate the efficacy of AbbVie’s investigational biomarker-specific antibody drug conjugate Rova-T (rovalpituuzumab tesirine) in combination with BMS’s Opdivo (nivolumab) and Opdivo + Yervoy (ipilimumab) regimen as a treatment for relapsed extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

According to the companies, the Phase 1/2 clinical program will explore the potential of combining BMS’ immuno-oncology agents, which are designed to alleviate immune suppression, in conjunction with AbbVie’s investigational antibody drug conjugate, Rova-T, to drive improved and sustained efficacy and tolerability. Rova-T is a novel antibody drug conjugate that targets and eliminates tumor initiating cells and other bulk tumor cells. This collaboration will determine if the targeted cell killing and antigen release caused by Rova-T may further enhance the effect of immunotherapy. Opdivo is a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, and Yervoy is a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor for patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

“We believe the combination of these cancer-fighting agents may offer patients a new treatment option in a disease with limited therapies,” Scott J. Dylla, PhD, vice-president, R&D at AbbVie, said in a press announcement. “By combining immune-checkpoint inhibitors that prime the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells with Rova-T’s approach to target cancer stem cells, we hope to build on our goal to develop differentiated treatments with therapeutic benefit that elevate the standard of care for small cell lung cancer patients.”