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BerGenBio's Trial Shows Promise for Bemcentinib and KEYTRUDA in Lung Cancer


6 November 2023

BerGenBio ASA reports promising results from a Phase II trial for bemcentinib combined with KEYTRUDA in treating second-line Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). The study indicates improved outcomes for patients with specific mutations typically associated with poor prognosis. Bemcentinib, a selective AXL kinase inhibitor, may enhance immune response and delay chemoresistance, potentially offering a new treatment avenue for aggressive NSCLC sub-groups.

In a recent update from Norway, biopharmaceutical firm BerGenBio ASA has provided fresh insights from a Phase II trial investigating the efficacy of bemcentinib in combination with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), MSD's anti-PD-1 therapy, in the treatment of second-line NSCLC. The new data, gleaned from a pre-planned biomarker analysis of the trial, was showcased at the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer's 2023 Annual Meeting.

This investigational treatment combines bemcentinib, a novel and highly selective AXL kinase inhibitor, with pembrolizumab, an established immunotherapy drug, to target NSCLC patients, particularly those with mutations linked to a worse prognosis. The recent findings, also highlighted on BerGenBio's website, indicate promising efficacy for the combination therapy in metastatic NSCLC patients who typically exhibit a poor survival rate due to negative or low PD-L1 levels, and mutations in the STK11 and KEAP1 genes.

Martin Olin, CEO of BerGenBio, expressed optimism about the potential of this drug combination to improve outcomes in NSCLC sub-groups that historically respond poorly to current treatments and commented 

“The findings add to the industry's understanding of the outcomes in 2L NSCLC patients and the potential for bemcentinib to benefit patients in combination with immune checkpoint inhibition. While the dataset in the analyses is relatively small, we believe bemcentinib in combination with pembrolizumab has the potential to improve outcomes in NSCLC patient sub-groups that have been associated with poor survival, including patients with negative/low PD-L1 levels, STK11 mutations, and KEAP1 mutations.”

Bemcentinib stands out as a potentially first-in-class drug that can be paired with various treatments, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, chemotherapies, and targeted therapies. The aim is to enhance patients' immune responses and slow down the development of resistance to chemotherapy. Currently, bemcentinib is undergoing trials in combination with immune checkpoint inhibition and chemotherapy, specifically targeting first-line NSCLC patients with STK11 gene mutations.

BerGenBio continues to spearhead the development of drugs that target the AXL kinase, a molecule of high interest due to its role in cancer and severe respiratory infections. With its headquarters in Bergen and a subsidiary in the UK, the company is keen on establishing bemcentinib as a cornerstone of therapy for aggressive diseases, including STK11 mutated NSCLC and potentially COVID-19. BerGenBio is publicly traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker BGBIO.

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