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Eisai’s Halaven shown to restrict further cancer metastasis

Published on 11/12/15 at 10:49am

New data presented by Eisai supports the previously shown ability of Halaven (eribulin) to reverse epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, the process by which cancerous cells are made more aggressive and harder to treat.

Data presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2015 (SABCS) suggest that Halaven keeps E-cadherin, a transmembrane protein, within the cancerous cell, thereby restricting further metastasis.

Susan Mooberry, Professor of Pharmacology, UT Health Science Center, San Antonio, says: “The results of this study allow us to further understand how eribulin works at a cellular level. The fact that eribulin is able to reverse the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is important because this leaves the cancer cells weaker and less aggressive than they would have otherwise been. This then means that subsequent chemotherapies later in the treatment cycle might prove more effective because eribulin has weakened the cancer.” 

Japan-based Eisai also says a second study presented at SABCS in stage I-II Hormone receptor positive/ Her2 negative breast cancer suggests the aggressive Luminal B form of the disease might benefit the most from treatment on Halaven.

The study highlights that women with Luminal B disease treated with neoadjuvant eribulin can see their disease convert to Luminal A, again making subsequent treatments potentially more effective. Luminal B disease often has a poorer prognosis than Luminal A disease, with factors including a poorer tumour grade, a larger tumour size and lymph-node positive.

“The results of this study suggest that not only is eribulin an effective treatment option in a form of breast cancer with a poorer prognosis, but that the treatment may in fact convert the disease to Luminal A – a form of the disease with an improved outlook for patients. These data are very encouraging for patients and clinicians alike,” comments Javier Cortés, specialist physician at the Oncology Department of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital.

Eisai also highlighted Halaven’s potential in combination with other therapies, and put forward plans for a phase Ib/II study of the drug in combination with Merck’s (MSD) Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. In March this year, Eisai teamed up with Merck to test the combination in several types of cancer.

A second study explores whether San Diego-based Halozyme Therapeutics’ lead candidate PEGPH20 (Pegylated Recombinant Human Hyaluronidase) enhances efficacy of Halaven in triple negative breast cancer xenografts. This adds to the partnership Eisai announced earlier this year with Halozyme to explore whether PEGPH20 can improve Halaven’s overall response rate, as a first line therapy for people living with advanced breast cancer.

“We are very proud that there are a total of sixteen eribulin abstracts at this year’s SABCS and believe that this highlights the long-term role that eribulin has in metastatic breast cancer,” says Gary Hendler, president & chief executive, Eisai EMEA and president, Eisai Oncology Global Business Unit. “It is exciting to see the additional mode of action data and also promising to see this important treatment being explored in combination with other therapies, something which should give us hope that eribulin will continue to offer benefit to patients and clinicians alike for the foreseeable future.”

Joel Levy

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