Effector Therapeutics has signed a clinical collaboration and supply agreement with Pfizer and Merck to initiate a Phase II clinical trial of immuno-oncology drugs combination to treat microsatellite stable colorectal cancer (CRC) patients.
The trial will include Effector’s eFT508, an investigational small molecule inhibitor of MNK1/2, and a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor known as avelumab that is being jointly evaluated by Merck and Pfizer for various tumours.
The open-label, randomised, non-comparative Phase II trial will assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the combination in microsatellite-stable relapsed or refractory CRC patients.
The trial will further include a monotherapy arm to evaluate eFT508 alone.
Effector Therapeutics president and CEO Steve Worland said: "We believe eFT508, our lead programme, is a promising new immuno-oncology drug candidate that could significantly improve patient response in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.
"We are very pleased to be working with Pfizer and Merck, given their demonstrated commitment to develop avelumab as a leading checkpoint inhibitor and their deep knowledge in the field of immuno-oncology."
The partnership between the firms is based on the findings from pre-clinical studies of the combination, which demonstrated the ability of eFT508 to trigger anti-tumour immunity and immune memory alone, as well as act in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.
The data also indicated the role of the drug candidate in uniformly inducing an anti-tumour immune response by selectively and simultaneously inhibiting various immuno-suppressive mechanisms and triggering different immunity-inducing mechanisms.
Set to be initiated in the third quarter of this year, the Phase II trial will be conducted by Effector, while Pfizer and Merck will provide funding.
Image: Colon cancer with extensive metastases to the liver. Photo: courtesy of James Heilman.