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Korean pharmas present latest findings at tumor forum

The fight against cancer is continuing despite the worldwide turmoil amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology, the most authoritative annual gathering of anti-cancer drug researchers, chose to proceed with this year’s event online. The ASCO20 Virtual took place from May 29-31, inviting some 40,000 experts from over 70 countries to speak on various forms of tumors and the attempts to discover new, more advanced treatments for different types of cancer.

From Korea, Samsung Bioepis, Celltrion Healthcare, Genexine and MedPacto presented the most up-to-date findings of their oncologic pipeline researches.

Samsung Bioepis, the biosimilar and biologics drug joint venture between Samsung and Biogen, announced at ASCO20 that its trastuzumab breast cancer biosimilar Ontruzant showed better event-free survival rate of 83.4 percent when compared to the original drug Herceptin’s 80.7 percent EFS. The result was yielded from four-years of drug administration and monitoring in 367 patients, Samsung Bioepis said. Ontruzant also showed better overall survival rate of 94.4 percent compared to Herceptin’s 89.6 percent, according to the company’s poster presentation.

Samsung Bioepis launched Ontruzant in the US in mid-April through its US partner, Merck. The ASCO20 presentation is anticipated to add wind to its sails.

Celltrion Healthcare also presented new findings of its trastuzumab biosimilr Herzuma at the ASCO20. In a novel treatment regimen comprising pembrolizumab, Herzuma and chemotherapy in 43 patients, the clinical 1b/2 trial result exhibited a significant tumor shrinkage of 95.3 percent with an overall response rate of 76.7 percent, Celltrion Healthcare said.

Genexine, a Korean biotech firm researching innovative novel drugs for various tumors, is continuing to build up its research for HyLeukin-7. HyLeukin-7 is being tested for efficacy in treating solid tumors, glioblastoma, triple-negative breast cancer and in skin cancer.

At ASCO20, the pipeline’s clinical trials 1b/2 test for triple-negative breast cancer when administered in combination with pembrolizumab, showed that while the single administration of pembrolizumab yielded only 5.3 percent response rate in patients, the combination treatment with HyLeukin-7 had three out of six patients showing positive response to the regimen.

MedPacto, a biotech firm testing immuno-oncology pipeline Vactosertib targeting desmoid tumors, said that the pipeline displayed no concerning toxicity levels when administered in combination with anti-cancer drug imatinib, meaning that the company may continue on to the next step of research, clinical trials 2a, to prove Vactosertib’s therapeutic efficacy.

The annual American Society of Clinical Oncology was founded in 1965. It is the most authoritative conference pertaining to tumor research that invites scholars and industry experts from across 70 nations. While the ASCO20 opened online due to COVID-19, future meetings of ASCO, scheduled for June 4-8 in 2021 and June 3-7 in 2022, are expected to return in physical form.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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