Celgene cuts work on 'encouraging' Abraxane regimen, turns to IO combos instead

Celgene won't take an Abraxane-carboplatin regimen into phase 3 metastatic triple-negative breast cancer trials.

Celgene’s breast cancer med Abraxane turned up “encouraging” results in a chemo-combo trial in triple-negative patients. But that’s as far as the research will go.

The New Jersey drugmaker has decided not to take the regimen—combining Abraxane with the chemo drug carboplatin—into phase 3 trials. Instead, it will focus its resources on exploring immuno-oncology combinations for Abraxane, it said Wednesday.

The decision follows a phase 2 performance in which the duo topped Abraxane-gemcitabine and carboplatin-gemcitabine pairings. Weekly Abraxane-carboplatin posted progression-free survival of 7.4 months among 191 women with mTNBC, topping the 5.4-month and 6.0-month figures the other two regimens posted, respectively.

That’s saying something, considering that mTNBC is “one of the most challenging types of cancer for treating physicians and patients alike,” lead investigator Denise Yardley said in a statement. But while Celgene won’t be taking the regimen forward, it says it “remains committed to applying the findings” of the study to “ongoing and future research of Abraxane in breast cancer for patients with high unmet needs.”

Celgene didn’t elaborate on exactly how it planned to do that, but, as many of its cancer drugmaker peers have, it’s been quick to pair its meds with checkpoint inhibitors in trials. In August 2014, it entered a collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to examine Abraxane with BMS IO star Opdivo across multiple tumor types, including HER-2 negative metastatic breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

Meanwhile, though, it’s still the star blood-cancer treatment Revlimid that’s keeping the Celgene sales engine going. In Q3, the med topped sales estimates by about $147 million, helping the company record top- and bottom-line beats and prompting it to raise its guidance for the year.