AstraZeneca chases another liver cancer nod for Imfinzi with early phase 3 win, scraps Imfinzi-Lynparza combo study in lung cancer

After bagging an approval last year in unresectable liver cancer, known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), AstraZeneca’s blockbuster PD-L1 Imfinzi is showing out in another HCC population.

Coupled with transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and Genentech’s Avastin, Imfinzi was able to help patients with HCC who are eligible for embolization live longer without their disease getting worse when compared with TACE alone. The measure was both statistically significant and clinically meaningful, AstraZeneca said in a release.

Now, the phase 3 trial will continue to chase its secondary endpoint of overall survival.

HCC is the most common type of liver cancer with an estimated 900,000 people worldwide diagnosed each year. Around 20% to 30% of patients are eligible for embolization, which is a procedure designed to block blood supply to the tumor and can deliver chemotherapy or radiation therapy directly to the liver.  

According to principal trial investigator Dr. Riccardo Lencioni, HCC patients who are embolization-eligible experience “high rates of progression or recurrence and do not have the opportunity for early intervention with effective systemic therapy.”

Imfinzi’s positive results “have the potential to reshape the treatment of this complex disease with a poor prognosis by showing for the first time that adding an immunotherapy combination to TACE significantly improves progression-free survival,” Lencioni added.

The data will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting and shared with regulatory authorities, AstraZeneca said. The company is also evaluating a combo of Imfinzi, its Imjudo, Eisai’s Lenvima and TACE in the same population.

In other decidedly more negative news for Imfinzi, AstraZeneca disclosed in a third-quarter update that it has scrapped a mid-stage test that had been combining the drug with Merck-partnered PARP inhibitor Lynparza. That trial had been assessing the combo as a first-line metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) therapy.

That combo just recently snagged a phase 3 trial win in newly diagnosed or recurrent endometrial cancer, cutting the risk of disease progression or death by 45%. Before that, it showed its ability to do the same in newly diagnosed patients with ovarian cancer without BRCA mutations. 

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca pulled $11 billion in revenue over the third quarter with Imfinzi bringing in $1.12 billion. The company’s oncology portfolio as a whole garnered $4.38 billion in quarterly sales.