Norwegian biopharmaceutical company BerGenBio has reported positive results from the first stage of a Phase II trial (BGBC008) assessing the efficacy of a combination in treating non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The study evaluated the efficacy of bemcentinib in combination with MSD’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in previously treated NSCLC patients with confirmed progression on prior immune checkpoint therapy.

With the data from cohort B in stage I achieving the primary endpoint, the trials will now advance to the second stage.

BerGenBio CEO Richard Godfrey said: “Reversing resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients who have relapsed on immunotherapy is a highly desirable alternative to the second-line chemotherapy standard-of-care.

“We are very excited with these early results in this challenging setting and look forward to expanding the study to confirm these findings and reporting comprehensive translational insight.”

The trial will enrol an additional 16 patients in the second stage. The study will evaluate the safety and clinical efficacy of bemcentinib plus Keytruda combination in NSCLC patients.

Bemcentinib (formerly referred as BGB324), is a potential AXL inhibitor. AXL kinase is a cell membrane receptor that weakens the body’s immune response to tumours, resulting in cancer treatment failures.

Bemcentinib is designed to bind with the intracellular catalytic kinase domain of AXL receptor tyrosine kinase, preventing its activity.

Apart from assessing Bemcentinib efficacy as a single agent, BerGenBio is investigating the potential AXL inhibitor in combination with current and emerging therapies for treating multiple solid and haematological tumours.