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Merck Presents Promising New Data for Three Investigational Medicines From Diverse and Expansive Oncology Pipeline at ESMO Virtual Congress 2020

Researchers Share New Data for Vibostolimab (MK-7684), Merck’s Anti-TIGIT Therapy, as Monotherapy and in Combination With KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab); First-Time Results for First-in-Class MK-4830 (Anti-ILT4 Therapy); and Late-Breaking Data for MK-6482 (HIF-2α Inhibitor)

Merck to Initiate Phase 3 Study of Vibostolimab in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in First Half of 2021

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #MRK–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the presentation of new data for three investigational medicines in Merck’s diverse and expansive oncology pipeline: vibostolimab (MK-7684), an anti-TIGIT therapy; MK-4830, a first-in-class anti-ILT4 therapy; and MK-6482, an oral HIF-2α inhibitor. Data from cohort expansions of a Phase 1b trial evaluating vibostolimab, as monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC; Abstract #1410P and Abstract #1400P), and first-time Phase 1 data for MK-4830 in patients with advanced solid tumors (Abstract #524O), demonstrated acceptable safety profiles for these two investigational medicines and early signals of anti-tumor activity. Additionally, late-breaking Phase 2 data for MK-6482 showed anti-tumor responses in von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and other tumors (Abstract #LBA26).

The new data for these three investigational medicines are encouraging and highlight continued momentum in our rapidly expanding oncology pipeline,” Dr. Eric H. Rubin, senior vice president, early-stage development, clinical oncology, Merck Research Laboratories. “Over the past five years, KEYTRUDA has become foundational in the treatment of certain advanced cancers. Our broad oncology portfolio and promising pipeline candidates are a testament to our commitment to bring forward innovative new medicines to address unmet medical needs in cancer care.”

Vibostolimab (Anti-TIGIT Therapy): Early Findings in Metastatic NSCLC (Abstract #1410P and Abstract #1400P)

Vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA was evaluated in patients with metastatic NSCLC who had not previously received anti–PD-1/PD-L1 therapy, but the majority of whom had received >1 prior lines of therapy (73%, n=30/41) in Abstract #1410P. In Part B of the first-in-human, open-label, Phase 1 trial (NCT02964013) all patients received vibostolimab (200 or 210 mg) in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg) on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 35 cycles. The primary endpoints of the study were safety and tolerability. Secondary endpoints included objective response rate (ORR), duration of response (DOR) and progression-free survival (PFS) based on investigator review per RECIST v1.1. (Read more…) In this anti-PD-1/PD-L1 naïve study, vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA had a manageable safety profile and demonstrated promising anti-tumor activity. Treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA occurred in 34 patients (83%). The most frequent TRAEs (≥20%) were pruritus (34%), hypoalbuminemia (29%) and pyrexia (20%). Grade 3-5 TRAEs occurred in six patients (15%). No deaths due to TRAEs occurred. Across all patients enrolled, treatment with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA demonstrated an ORR of 29% (95% CI, 16-46) and median PFS was 5.4 months (95% CI, 2.1-8.2). The median DOR was not reached (range, 4 to 17+ months). Among patients whose tumors express PD-L1 (tumor proportion score [TPS] ≥1%) (n=13), the ORR was 46% (95% CI, 19-75) and median PFS was 8.4 months (95% CI, 3.9-10.2). Among patients whose tumors express PD-L1 (TPS <1%) (n=12), the ORR was 25% (95% CI, 6-57), and median PFS was 4.1 months (95% CI, 1.9-not reached [NR]). PD-L1 status was not available for 16 patients. Median follow-up for the study was 11 months (range, 7 to 18).

Additional data from a separate cohort of the same Phase 1b trial evaluated vibostolimab as monotherapy (n=41) and in combination with KEYTRUDA (n=38) in patients with metastatic NSCLC whose disease progressed on prior anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy (Abstract #1400P). In the study, 78% of patients had received >2 lines of prior therapy. In the study, patients received vibostolimab monotherapy (200 or 210 mg) or vibostolimab (200 or 210 mg) in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg) on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 35 cycles. The primary endpoints of the study were safety and tolerability. Secondary endpoints included ORR and DOR. Vibostolimab as monotherapy or in combination with KEYTRUDA had a manageable safety profile and demonstrated modest anti-tumor activity in patients whose disease was refractory to PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition, most of whom had previously received several lines of therapy for advanced disease prior to enrollment. Grade 3-5 TRAEs occurred in 15% of patients receiving vibostolimab monotherapy and 13% of patients receiving vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA. The most common TRAEs (≥10% in either arm) were pruritus, fatigue, rash, arthralgia and decreased appetite. One patient died due to treatment-related pneumonitis in the vibostolimab and KEYTRUDA combination arm. The ORR was 7% (95% CI, 2-20) with vibostolimab monotherapy and 5% (95% CI, <1-18) with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA. The median DOR was 9 months (range, 9 to 9) with vibostolimab monotherapy and 13 months (range, 4+ to 13) with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA.

Data from these cohort expansion studies are encouraging and support the continued development of vibostolimab, which is being evaluated alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA across multiple solid tumors, including NSCLC and melanoma. In the ongoing Phase 2 KEYNOTE-U01 umbrella study (NCT04165798), substudy KEYNOTE-01A (NCT04165070) is evaluating vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA plus chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC who had not received prior treatment with an anti-PD-1/PD-L1. Merck plans to initiate a Phase 3 study of vibostolimab in NSCLC in the first half of 2021. Ongoing trials in melanoma include the Phase 1/2 KEYNOTE-U02 umbrella study comprised of three substudies evaluating vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA across treatment settings (substudy 02A: NCT04305041, substudy 02B: NCT04305054 and substudy 02C: NCT04303169).

MK-4830 (Anti-ILT4 Therapy): Initial Results in Advanced Solid Tumors (Abstract #524O)

In this first-in-human Phase 1, open-label, multi-arm, multi-center, dose escalation study (NCT03564691), MK-4830, Merck’s first-in-class anti-ILT4 therapy, was evaluated as monotherapy (n=50) and in combination with KEYTRUDA (n=34) in patients with advanced solid tumors. The majority of patients enrolled in the study (51%) had received three or more prior lines of therapy. MK-4830 was administered intravenously at escalating doses every three weeks alone or in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg every three weeks). The primary endpoints of the dose escalation part of the study were safety and tolerability; Pharmacokinetics was a secondary endpoint, and exploratory objectives included ORR per RECIST v1.1, evaluation of receptor occupancy and immune correlates of response in blood and tumor.

Findings showed that MK-4830 as monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA had an acceptable safety profile and demonstrated dose-related evidence of target engagement in patients with advanced solid tumors. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed; the maximum-tolerated dose was not reached. Any-grade adverse events were consistent with those associated with KEYTRUDA. Treatment-related AEs occurred in 54% (n=28/52) of patients who received MK-4830 in combination with KEYTRUDA and 48% (n=24/50) of patients who received MK-4830 monotherapy; the majority were Grade 1 and 2. Preliminary efficacy data showed an ORR of 24% (n=8/34) in patients who received MK-4830 in combination with KEYTRUDA. All responses occurred in heavily pretreated patients, including five who had progressed on prior anti-PD-1 therapy (n=5/11). Some patients received more than one year of treatment, and treatment is ongoing in several patients.

These early data support the continued development of MK-4830 in combination with KEYTRUDA in patients with advanced solid tumors. Expansion cohorts of this study include pancreatic adenocarcinoma, glioblastoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (recurrent or metastatic; PD-L1 positive), advanced NSCLC and gastric cancer.

MK-6482 (HIF-2α Inhibitor): Results in VHL-Associated RCC and Non-RCC Tumors (Abstract #LBA26)

In this Phase 2, open-label, single-arm trial, MK-6482 was evaluated for the treatment of VHL-associated RCC (NCT03401788). New data include findings for MK-6482 in VHL patients with non-RCC tumors and updated data in VHL patients with RCC. First-time data in VHL-associated RCC were presented in the virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. The study enrolled adult patients with a pathogenic germline VHL variation, measurable localized or non-metastatic RCC, no prior systemic anti-cancer therapy, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) of 0 or 1. Patients received MK-6482 120 mg orally once daily until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or investigator’s or patient’s decision to withdraw. The primary endpoint was ORR of VHL-associated RCC tumors per RECIST v1.1 by independent radiology review. Secondary endpoints included DOR, time to response, PFS, efficacy in non-RCC tumors, and safety and tolerability.

Promising clinical activity continues to be observed with MK-6482 in treatment-naïve patients with VHL-associated RCC. Among 61 patients, results showed a confirmed ORR of 36.1% (95% CI, 24.2-49.4); all responses were partial responses, and 38% of patients had stable disease. The median time to response was 31.1 weeks (range, 11.9 to 62.3), and median DOR was not yet reached (range, 11.9 to 62.3 weeks). Additionally, 91.8% (n=56) of patients had a decrease in size of target lesions. Median PFS has not been reached, and the PFS rate at 52 weeks was 98.3%. Median duration of treatment was 68.7 weeks (range, 18.3 to 104.7), and 91.8% of patients were still on therapy after a minimum follow-up of 60 weeks.

In patients with non-RCC tumors, results in those with pancreatic lesions (n=61) showed a confirmed ORR of 63.9% (95% CI, 50.6-75.8), with four complete responses and 35 partial responses. Additionally, 34.4% had stable disease. In those with central nervous system (CNS) hemangioblastoma (n=43), results showed a confirmed ORR of 30.2% (95% CI, 17.2-46.1), with five complete responses and eight partial responses. Additionally, 65.1% had stable disease. In patients with retinal lesions (n=16), 93.8% of patients had improved or stable response.

In this Phase 2 study, TRAEs occurred in 98.4% of patients, and there were no Grade 4-5 TRAEs. The most common all-cause adverse events (≥20%) were anemia (90.2%), fatigue (60.7%), headache (37.7%), dizziness (36.1%) and nausea (31.1%). Grade 3 all-cause adverse events included anemia (6.6%), fatigue (4.9%) and dyspnea (1.6%). One patient discontinued treatment due to a TRAE (Grade 1 dizziness).

As announced, data spanning more than 15 types of cancer will be presented from Merck’s broad oncology portfolio and investigational pipeline at the congress. A compendium of presentations and posters of Merck-led studies is available here. Follow Merck on Twitter via @Merck and keep up to date with ESMO news and updates by using the hashtag #ESMO20.

About Vibostolimab

Vibostolimab is an anti-TIGIT therapy discovered and developed by Merck. Vibostolimab binds to TIGIT and blocks the interaction between TIGIT and its ligands (CD112 and CD155), thereby activating T lymphocytes which help to destroy tumor cells. The effect of combining KEYTRUDA with vibostolimab – blocking both the TIGIT and PD-1 pathways simultaneously – is currently being evaluated across multiple solid tumors, including NSCLC and melanoma.

About MK-4830

MK-4830 is a novel antibody directed against the inhibitory immune checkpoint receptor immunoglobulin-like transcript 4 (ILT4). Unlike current T cell-targeted antibodies (e.g., anti-PD1, anti-CTLA-4), anti-ILT4 is believed to attenuate immunosuppression imposed by tolerogenic myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment. MK-4830 is currently being evaluated alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA across multiple solid tumors as part of ongoing Phase 1 and 2 trials.

About MK-6482

MK-6482 is an investigational, novel, potent, selective, oral HIF-2α inhibitor that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 3 trial in advanced RCC (NCT04195750), a Phase 2 trial in VHL-associated RCC (NCT03401788), and a Phase 1/2 dose-escalation and dose-expansion trial in advanced solid tumors, including advanced RCC (NCT02974738). Proteins known as hypoxia-inducible factors, including HIF-2α, can accumulate in patients when VHL, a tumor-suppressor protein, is inactivated. The accumulation of HIF-2α can lead to the formation of both benign and malignant tumors. This inactivation of VHL has been observed in more than 90% of RCC tumors. Research into VHL biology that led to the discovery of HIF-2α was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2019.

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100 mg

KEYTRUDA is an anti-PD-1 therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.

Merck has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research program. There are currently more than 1,200 trials studying KEYTRUDA across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers and the factors that may predict a patient’s likelihood of benefitting from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different biomarkers.

Selected KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with involvement of lymph node(s) following complete resection.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

KEYTRUDA, in combination with carboplatin and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel protein-bound, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic squamous NSCLC.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with NSCLC expressing PD-L1 [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1%] as determined by an FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, and is stage III where patients are not candidates for surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation, or metastatic.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors express PD-L1 (TPS ≥1%) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. Patients with EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations should have disease progression on FDA-approved therapy for these aberrations prior to receiving KEYTRUDA.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with disease progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy and at least 1 other prior line of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with platinum and fluorouracil (FU), is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent HNSCC whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score (CPS) ≥1] as determined by an FDA-approved test.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), or who have relapsed after 3 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), or who have relapsed after 2 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. KEYTRUDA is not recommended for treatment of patients with PMBCL who require urgent cytoreductive therapy.

Urothelial Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy and whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score (CPS) ≥10], as determined by an FDA-approved test, or in patients who are not eligible for any platinum-containing chemotherapy regardless of PD-L1 status. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)-unresponsive, high-risk, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary tumors who are ineligible for or have elected not to undergo cystectomy.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR)

  • solid tumors that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options, or
  • colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The safety and effectiveness of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients with MSI-H central nervous system cancers have not been established.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Colorectal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic MSI-H or dMMR colorectal cancer (CRC).

Gastric Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after two or more prior lines of therapy including fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy and if appropriate, HER2/neu-targeted therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Esophageal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression after one or more prior lines of systemic therapy.

Cervical Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an FDA-approved test. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have been previously treated with sorafenib. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with axitinib, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Tumor Mutational Burden-High

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) [≥10 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb)] solid tumors, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Contacts

Media Contacts:

Pamela Eisele

(267) 305-3558

Justine Moore

(908) 740-6449

Investor Contacts:

Peter Dannenbaum

(908) 740-1037

Courtney Ronaldo

(908) 740-6132

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Merck Presents Promising New Data for Three Investigational Medicines From Diverse and Expansive Oncology Pipeline at ESMO Virtual Congress 2020

Researchers Share New Data for Vibostolimab (MK-7684), Merck’s Anti-TIGIT Therapy, as Monotherapy and in Combination With KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab); First-Time Results for First-in-Class MK-4830 (Anti-ILT4 Therapy); and Late-Breaking Data for MK-6482 (HIF-2α Inhibitor)

Merck to Initiate Phase 3 Study of Vibostolimab in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in First Half of 2021

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #MRK–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the presentation of new data for three investigational medicines in Merck’s diverse and expansive oncology pipeline: vibostolimab (MK-7684), an anti-TIGIT therapy; MK-4830, a first-in-class anti-ILT4 therapy; and MK-6482, an oral HIF-2α inhibitor. Data from cohort expansions of a Phase 1b trial evaluating vibostolimab, as monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC; Abstract #1410P and Abstract #1400P), and first-time Phase 1 data for MK-4830 in patients with advanced solid tumors (Abstract #524O), demonstrated acceptable safety profiles for these two investigational medicines and early signals of anti-tumor activity. Additionally, late-breaking Phase 2 data for MK-6482 showed anti-tumor responses in von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and other tumors (Abstract #LBA26).

The new data for these three investigational medicines are encouraging and highlight continued momentum in our rapidly expanding oncology pipeline,” Dr. Eric H. Rubin, senior vice president, early-stage development, clinical oncology, Merck Research Laboratories. “Over the past five years, KEYTRUDA has become foundational in the treatment of certain advanced cancers. Our broad oncology portfolio and promising pipeline candidates are a testament to our commitment to bring forward innovative new medicines to address unmet medical needs in cancer care.”

Vibostolimab (Anti-TIGIT Therapy): Early Findings in Metastatic NSCLC (Abstract #1410P and Abstract #1400P)

Vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA was evaluated in patients with metastatic NSCLC who had not previously received anti–PD-1/PD-L1 therapy, but the majority of whom had received >1 prior lines of therapy (73%, n=30/41) in Abstract #1410P. In Part B of the first-in-human, open-label, Phase 1 trial (NCT02964013) all patients received vibostolimab (200 or 210 mg) in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg) on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 35 cycles. The primary endpoints of the study were safety and tolerability. Secondary endpoints included objective response rate (ORR), duration of response (DOR) and progression-free survival (PFS) based on investigator review per RECIST v1.1. (Read more…) In this anti-PD-1/PD-L1 naïve study, vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA had a manageable safety profile and demonstrated promising anti-tumor activity. Treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA occurred in 34 patients (83%). The most frequent TRAEs (≥20%) were pruritus (34%), hypoalbuminemia (29%) and pyrexia (20%). Grade 3-5 TRAEs occurred in six patients (15%). No deaths due to TRAEs occurred. Across all patients enrolled, treatment with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA demonstrated an ORR of 29% (95% CI, 16-46) and median PFS was 5.4 months (95% CI, 2.1-8.2). The median DOR was not reached (range, 4 to 17+ months). Among patients whose tumors express PD-L1 (tumor proportion score [TPS] ≥1%) (n=13), the ORR was 46% (95% CI, 19-75) and median PFS was 8.4 months (95% CI, 3.9-10.2). Among patients whose tumors express PD-L1 (TPS <1%) (n=12), the ORR was 25% (95% CI, 6-57), and median PFS was 4.1 months (95% CI, 1.9-not reached [NR]). PD-L1 status was not available for 16 patients. Median follow-up for the study was 11 months (range, 7 to 18).

Additional data from a separate cohort of the same Phase 1b trial evaluated vibostolimab as monotherapy (n=41) and in combination with KEYTRUDA (n=38) in patients with metastatic NSCLC whose disease progressed on prior anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy (Abstract #1400P). In the study, 78% of patients had received >2 lines of prior therapy. In the study, patients received vibostolimab monotherapy (200 or 210 mg) or vibostolimab (200 or 210 mg) in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg) on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 35 cycles. The primary endpoints of the study were safety and tolerability. Secondary endpoints included ORR and DOR. Vibostolimab as monotherapy or in combination with KEYTRUDA had a manageable safety profile and demonstrated modest anti-tumor activity in patients whose disease was refractory to PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition, most of whom had previously received several lines of therapy for advanced disease prior to enrollment. Grade 3-5 TRAEs occurred in 15% of patients receiving vibostolimab monotherapy and 13% of patients receiving vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA. The most common TRAEs (≥10% in either arm) were pruritus, fatigue, rash, arthralgia and decreased appetite. One patient died due to treatment-related pneumonitis in the vibostolimab and KEYTRUDA combination arm. The ORR was 7% (95% CI, 2-20) with vibostolimab monotherapy and 5% (95% CI, <1-18) with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA. The median DOR was 9 months (range, 9 to 9) with vibostolimab monotherapy and 13 months (range, 4+ to 13) with vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA.

Data from these cohort expansion studies are encouraging and support the continued development of vibostolimab, which is being evaluated alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA across multiple solid tumors, including NSCLC and melanoma. In the ongoing Phase 2 KEYNOTE-U01 umbrella study (NCT04165798), substudy KEYNOTE-01A (NCT04165070) is evaluating vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA plus chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC who had not received prior treatment with an anti-PD-1/PD-L1. Merck plans to initiate a Phase 3 study of vibostolimab in NSCLC in the first half of 2021. Ongoing trials in melanoma include the Phase 1/2 KEYNOTE-U02 umbrella study comprised of three substudies evaluating vibostolimab in combination with KEYTRUDA across treatment settings (substudy 02A: NCT04305041, substudy 02B: NCT04305054 and substudy 02C: NCT04303169).

MK-4830 (Anti-ILT4 Therapy): Initial Results in Advanced Solid Tumors (Abstract #524O)

In this first-in-human Phase 1, open-label, multi-arm, multi-center, dose escalation study (NCT03564691), MK-4830, Merck’s first-in-class anti-ILT4 therapy, was evaluated as monotherapy (n=50) and in combination with KEYTRUDA (n=34) in patients with advanced solid tumors. The majority of patients enrolled in the study (51%) had received three or more prior lines of therapy. MK-4830 was administered intravenously at escalating doses every three weeks alone or in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg every three weeks). The primary endpoints of the dose escalation part of the study were safety and tolerability; Pharmacokinetics was a secondary endpoint, and exploratory objectives included ORR per RECIST v1.1, evaluation of receptor occupancy and immune correlates of response in blood and tumor.

Findings showed that MK-4830 as monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA had an acceptable safety profile and demonstrated dose-related evidence of target engagement in patients with advanced solid tumors. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed; the maximum-tolerated dose was not reached. Any-grade adverse events were consistent with those associated with KEYTRUDA. Treatment-related AEs occurred in 54% (n=28/52) of patients who received MK-4830 in combination with KEYTRUDA and 48% (n=24/50) of patients who received MK-4830 monotherapy; the majority were Grade 1 and 2. Preliminary efficacy data showed an ORR of 24% (n=8/34) in patients who received MK-4830 in combination with KEYTRUDA. All responses occurred in heavily pretreated patients, including five who had progressed on prior anti-PD-1 therapy (n=5/11). Some patients received more than one year of treatment, and treatment is ongoing in several patients.

These early data support the continued development of MK-4830 in combination with KEYTRUDA in patients with advanced solid tumors. Expansion cohorts of this study include pancreatic adenocarcinoma, glioblastoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (recurrent or metastatic; PD-L1 positive), advanced NSCLC and gastric cancer.

MK-6482 (HIF-2α Inhibitor): Results in VHL-Associated RCC and Non-RCC Tumors (Abstract #LBA26)

In this Phase 2, open-label, single-arm trial, MK-6482 was evaluated for the treatment of VHL-associated RCC (NCT03401788). New data include findings for MK-6482 in VHL patients with non-RCC tumors and updated data in VHL patients with RCC. First-time data in VHL-associated RCC were presented in the virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. The study enrolled adult patients with a pathogenic germline VHL variation, measurable localized or non-metastatic RCC, no prior systemic anti-cancer therapy, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) of 0 or 1. Patients received MK-6482 120 mg orally once daily until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or investigator’s or patient’s decision to withdraw. The primary endpoint was ORR of VHL-associated RCC tumors per RECIST v1.1 by independent radiology review. Secondary endpoints included DOR, time to response, PFS, efficacy in non-RCC tumors, and safety and tolerability.

Promising clinical activity continues to be observed with MK-6482 in treatment-naïve patients with VHL-associated RCC. Among 61 patients, results showed a confirmed ORR of 36.1% (95% CI, 24.2-49.4); all responses were partial responses, and 38% of patients had stable disease. The median time to response was 31.1 weeks (range, 11.9 to 62.3), and median DOR was not yet reached (range, 11.9 to 62.3 weeks). Additionally, 91.8% (n=56) of patients had a decrease in size of target lesions. Median PFS has not been reached, and the PFS rate at 52 weeks was 98.3%. Median duration of treatment was 68.7 weeks (range, 18.3 to 104.7), and 91.8% of patients were still on therapy after a minimum follow-up of 60 weeks.

In patients with non-RCC tumors, results in those with pancreatic lesions (n=61) showed a confirmed ORR of 63.9% (95% CI, 50.6-75.8), with four complete responses and 35 partial responses. Additionally, 34.4% had stable disease. In those with central nervous system (CNS) hemangioblastoma (n=43), results showed a confirmed ORR of 30.2% (95% CI, 17.2-46.1), with five complete responses and eight partial responses. Additionally, 65.1% had stable disease. In patients with retinal lesions (n=16), 93.8% of patients had improved or stable response.

In this Phase 2 study, TRAEs occurred in 98.4% of patients, and there were no Grade 4-5 TRAEs. The most common all-cause adverse events (≥20%) were anemia (90.2%), fatigue (60.7%), headache (37.7%), dizziness (36.1%) and nausea (31.1%). Grade 3 all-cause adverse events included anemia (6.6%), fatigue (4.9%) and dyspnea (1.6%). One patient discontinued treatment due to a TRAE (Grade 1 dizziness).

As announced, data spanning more than 15 types of cancer will be presented from Merck’s broad oncology portfolio and investigational pipeline at the congress. A compendium of presentations and posters of Merck-led studies is available here. Follow Merck on Twitter via @Merck and keep up to date with ESMO news and updates by using the hashtag #ESMO20.

About Vibostolimab

Vibostolimab is an anti-TIGIT therapy discovered and developed by Merck. Vibostolimab binds to TIGIT and blocks the interaction between TIGIT and its ligands (CD112 and CD155), thereby activating T lymphocytes which help to destroy tumor cells. The effect of combining KEYTRUDA with vibostolimab – blocking both the TIGIT and PD-1 pathways simultaneously – is currently being evaluated across multiple solid tumors, including NSCLC and melanoma.

About MK-4830

MK-4830 is a novel antibody directed against the inhibitory immune checkpoint receptor immunoglobulin-like transcript 4 (ILT4). Unlike current T cell-targeted antibodies (e.g., anti-PD1, anti-CTLA-4), anti-ILT4 is believed to attenuate immunosuppression imposed by tolerogenic myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment. MK-4830 is currently being evaluated alone and in combination with KEYTRUDA across multiple solid tumors as part of ongoing Phase 1 and 2 trials.

About MK-6482

MK-6482 is an investigational, novel, potent, selective, oral HIF-2α inhibitor that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 3 trial in advanced RCC (NCT04195750), a Phase 2 trial in VHL-associated RCC (NCT03401788), and a Phase 1/2 dose-escalation and dose-expansion trial in advanced solid tumors, including advanced RCC (NCT02974738). Proteins known as hypoxia-inducible factors, including HIF-2α, can accumulate in patients when VHL, a tumor-suppressor protein, is inactivated. The accumulation of HIF-2α can lead to the formation of both benign and malignant tumors. This inactivation of VHL has been observed in more than 90% of RCC tumors. Research into VHL biology that led to the discovery of HIF-2α was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2019.

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100 mg

KEYTRUDA is an anti-PD-1 therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.

Merck has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research program. There are currently more than 1,200 trials studying KEYTRUDA across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers and the factors that may predict a patient’s likelihood of benefitting from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different biomarkers.

Selected KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with involvement of lymph node(s) following complete resection.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

KEYTRUDA, in combination with carboplatin and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel protein-bound, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic squamous NSCLC.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with NSCLC expressing PD-L1 [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1%] as determined by an FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, and is stage III where patients are not candidates for surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation, or metastatic.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors express PD-L1 (TPS ≥1%) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. Patients with EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations should have disease progression on FDA-approved therapy for these aberrations prior to receiving KEYTRUDA.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with disease progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy and at least 1 other prior line of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with platinum and fluorouracil (FU), is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent HNSCC whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score (CPS) ≥1] as determined by an FDA-approved test.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), or who have relapsed after 3 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), or who have relapsed after 2 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. KEYTRUDA is not recommended for treatment of patients with PMBCL who require urgent cytoreductive therapy.

Urothelial Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy and whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score (CPS) ≥10], as determined by an FDA-approved test, or in patients who are not eligible for any platinum-containing chemotherapy regardless of PD-L1 status. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)-unresponsive, high-risk, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary tumors who are ineligible for or have elected not to undergo cystectomy.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR)

  • solid tumors that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options, or
  • colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The safety and effectiveness of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients with MSI-H central nervous system cancers have not been established.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Colorectal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic MSI-H or dMMR colorectal cancer (CRC).

Gastric Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after two or more prior lines of therapy including fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy and if appropriate, HER2/neu-targeted therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Esophageal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression after one or more prior lines of systemic therapy.

Cervical Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an FDA-approved test. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have been previously treated with sorafenib. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with axitinib, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Tumor Mutational Burden-High

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) [≥10 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb)] solid tumors, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

Contacts

Media Contacts:

Pamela Eisele

(267) 305-3558

Justine Moore

(908) 740-6449

Investor Contacts:

Peter Dannenbaum

(908) 740-1037

Courtney Ronaldo

(908) 740-6132

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One thought on “Merck Presents Promising New Data for Three Investigational Medicines From Diverse and Expansive Oncology Pipeline at ESMO Virtual Congress 2020

  • September 21, 2020 at 6:03 am
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    A growing menu of homogeneous, functional assays to identify activated kinases in whole cells is also offered by integrating different technology platforms, kinase knowledge, and expertise in cell-based assays. Applied alone or in combination, these powerful assay platforms can be used at all stages of drug discovery and are ideal for identifying highly potent and selective kinase inhibitors.

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