Seattle Genetics to test Adcetris in non-Hodgkin's patients

Fresh off an approval for Hodgkin's lymphoma and another rare lymphoma, Seattle Genetics ($SGEN) is launching a new trial of its Adcetris treatment in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The Phase II trial will test Adcetris in patients with relapsed or difficult-to-treat disease that tests positive for CD30, the drug's protein target. It's part of Seattle Genetics' plan to expand use of Adcetris to other cancers that might be vulnerable to CD30 interference.

"We believe the targeting ability of Adcetris to CD30 provides significant opportunities in selected lymphoma subtypes," CMO Thomas Reynolds said in a statement. "This study and our other planned trials will further define the potential role of Adcetris in these patients." One planned trial, a Phase II study expected to begin later this year, will test Adcetris in patients with other CD30-positive cancers besides lymphoma.

The new trial will enroll about 55 patients in the U.S., seeking not only to determine whether Adcetris works against their tumors, but also to define how CD30 expression relates to the drug's anti-tumor activity, the company said. Other ongoing Adcetris studies include a Phase III trial in patients at high risk of residual Hodgkin's disease after a stem cell transplant and a Phase II trial in patients who have relapsed after previous response to the drug.

Meanwhile, the company is launching Adcetris amid some worry about new-drug launches in general--and expensive new-drug launches in particular. The concern was touched off by some disappointing sales figures from Dendreon ($DNDN), which launched its pricey prostate cancer treatment Provenge; Savient Pharmaceuticals, which introduced a gout drug, Krystexxa; and Human Genome Sciences ($HGSI), whose Benlysta drug for lupus hit the market.

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