Genprex Updates Agreement with University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to Resume Patient Enrollment in Phase I/II Study Evaluating Oncoprex/Erlotinib Combination Therapy in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
AUSTIN,Texas & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Genprex, Inc. (NASDAQ:GNPX), a clinical stage gene therapy company developing a new approach to treating cancer based upon a novel proprietary technology platform, today announced that it has amended its agreement with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to resume patient enrollment in its Phase I/II clinical trial evaluating the combination of the company’s investigational drug Oncoprex™ and erlotinib (Tarceva®) for the treatment of Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Oncoprex is a TUSC2 gene encapsulated in a positively charged nanovesicle made from lipid molecules and injected intravenously, which can specifically target cancer cells and insert wild-type TUSC2 into cellular DNA, effectively increasing expression of the TUSC2 protein and promoting tumor cell death.
Previously announced interim data from nine patients from the Phase II portion of this Phase I/II clinical trial showed a disease control rate of 78%, with seven out of nine patients achieving stable disease or better, including one complete response. In a previous Phase I clinical trial at MD Anderson evaluating Oncoprex as a monotherapy, five of 23 patients with late-stage NSCLC achieved stable disease or better, with one durable metabolic response.
“We look forward to completing the Oncoprex/erlotinib trial and expanding the study of Oncoprex in combination with other targeted and immunotherapies in the future,” said Rodney Varner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Genprex. “We believe the data from the more than 50 late-stage NSCLC patients treated to date provide persuasive evidence of Oncoprex’s anti-tumor effects and favorable safety profile.”
A subset of NSCLC patients (approximately 10% of NSCLC patients of North American and European descent and approximately 30% to 50% of NSCLC patients of Asian descent) carry an EGFR mutation that makes their tumors sensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibitors, or TKIs, such as erlotinib. However, even for these patients, tumor resistance to TKIs frequently develops within two years, resulting in eventual disease progression. While next generation TKIs show promise in targeting resistant EGFR positive tumors that carry a mutation known as T790M, only about one-half of EGFR positive patients (5% to 7.5% of all NSCLC patients of North American and European descent and 15% to 25% of NSCLC patients of Asian descent) carry the T790M mutation. This leaves a significant majority of NSCLC patients—those who are EGFR negative and those who are EGFR positive but have become resistant to erlotinib and do not have the T790M mutation—without a targeted therapy for their cancer.
Combination therapies targeting multiple anti-cancer pathways represent a promising approach to achieving greater response rates, and may also allow the expanded use of targeted therapies and immunotherapies in a larger population of cancer patients who are not currently candidates for these treatments.
About Lung Cancer
According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and is the second most common type of cancer. Each year, there are over 1.8 million new lung cancer cases and 1.6 million deaths from lung cancer worldwide, and in the United States there are over 225,000 new cases and more than 150,000 deaths from lung cancer per year. NSCLC represents 80% of all lung cancers. According to a 2016 American Cancer Society report, the five-year survival rate for Stage IV (metastatic) NSCLC is about 1%, and overall survival for lung cancer has not improved appreciably in the last 25 years.
Genprex, Inc. is a clinical stage gene therapy company developing a new approach to treating cancer, based upon a novel proprietary technology platform, including Genprex’s initial product candidate, Oncoprex™ immunogene therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Genprex’s platform technologies are designed to administer cancer fighting genes by encapsulating them into nanoscale hollow spheres called nanovesicles, which are then administered intravenously and taken up by tumor cells where they express proteins that are missing or found in low quantities. Oncoprex has a multimodal mechanism of action whereby it interrupts cell signaling pathways that cause replication and proliferation of cancer cells, re-establishes pathways for apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells, and modulates the immune response against cancer cells. Oncoprex has also been shown to block mechanisms that create drug resistance.
Statements contained in this press release regarding matters that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Because such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the effect of TUSC2 and Oncoprex on cancer, alone or in combination with other drugs, whether and if so, when our clinical trials might be undertaken, expanded or completed, the safety of Oncoprex, the services we expect to receive from MD Anderson and the effect of those services on the development of Oncoprex. Risks that contribute to the uncertain nature of the forward-looking statements include the presence and level of TUSC2’s and Oncoprex’s effect on cancer, alone or in combination with other drugs, the safety of Oncoprex, MD Anderson’s ability to provide services to us and our ability to utilize MD Anderson’s services, the ability of MD Anderson’s services to influence the development of Oncoprex, as well as the timing and success of our clinical trials and planned clinical trials of TUSC2 and Oncoprex and our other potential product candidates and the timing and success of obtaining FDA approval of Oncoprex and our other potential product candidates. These and other risks and uncertainties are described more fully under the caption "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in our filings and reports with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date on which they were made. We undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date on which they were made.
Source: Genprex, Inc.