Roche Group’s biotechnology subsidiary Genentech has expanded clinical collaboration with biopharmaceutical firm Epizyme to investigate the combination of atezolizumab (Tecentriq) and tazemetostat in a Phase Ib/II clinical trial to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

Tazemetostat is an inhibitor of EZH2, while atezolizumab is Roche’s fully humanised, engineered monoclonal antibody of IgG1.

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Under the deal, the new trial will include subjects with relapsed / refractory metastatic NSCLC and will be a part of Genentech's open-label, multi-centre, randomised umbrella trial called MORPHEUS.

The MORPHEUS trial is designed to assess the safety and efficacy of various immunotherapy-based combinations for the treatment of metastatic NSCLC.

Roche oncology partnering global head Scott Clarke said: "The MORPHEUS clinical platform is aimed at rapidly evaluating new cancer immunotherapy combination treatment regimens in patients with metastatic NSCLC.

"The goal of this collaboration is to assess the role this combination therapy may play in immune-cell priming, activation and T-cell infiltration, potentially enhancing an anti-cancer response."

"The goal of this collaboration is to assess the role this combination therapy may play in immune-cell priming, activation and T-cell infiltration, potentially enhancing an anti-cancer response."

Expected to commence by the end of this year, the Phase Ib/II trial will recruit approximately 40 subjects demonstrating disease progression with or after a platinum-containing chemotherapy regimen and a PD-L1/PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor.

Genentech will sponsor the trail, while Epizyme will retain tazemetostat’s global development and commercialisation rights.

Epizyme president and CEO Robert Bazemore said: “This study marks our second immuno-oncology combination with Genentech, and we look forward to working together to understand the benefit combination treatment with tazemetostat and atezolizumab may have for patients with this difficult cancer.”

The firms initially formed an alliance in June last year to assess tazemetostat and atezolizumab combination regimen in a Phase Ib clinical trial to treat relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.