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Venetoclax is a small molecule inhibitor of the BCL-2 protein, which potentially represents a new way of treating blood cancers, in this article, specifically for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Regulatory applications for venetoclax are planned for submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) by the end of 2015
South San Francisco, Calif. – August 12, 2015 – Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), announced positive results today from the Phase II M13-982 study of venetoclax, an investigational medicine being developed in partnership with AbbVie. The study met its primary endpoint, showing that venetoclax monotherapy resulted in a clinically meaningful reduction in the number of cancer cells (overall response rate, ORR) in a pre-defined proportion of people with previously treated (relapsed or refractory) chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) harboring the 17p deletion. No unexpected safety signals were reported for venetoclax.
“Approximately 30 to 50 percent of people with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia have the 17p deletion that makes their disease difficult to treat,” said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “Venetoclax may help restore the natural process that allows these leukemic cells to self destruct, representing a potential new way of helping people with this form of CLL who typically have a poor prognosis and limited treatment options.”
Venetoclax was recently granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of previously treated CLL with the 17p deletion. This designation is designed to expedite the development and review of medicines intended to treat serious diseases. People with this type of CLL typically have a median life expectancy of less than three years. This is the eighth BTD granted for a Genentech medicine, and the second one in hematology.
Data from the pivotal M13-982 study will be submitted for presentation at an upcoming medical meeting. AbbVie plans to submit these data to the FDA, European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other health authorities around the world for approval consideration.
About Study M13-982
M13-982 (NCT01889186) is a Phase II, open label, single arm, multicenter study evaluating the efficacy and safety of venetoclax in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL harboring the 17p deletion. The main study cohort included 107 patients and approximately 50 patients will be enrolled in the safety expansion cohort. The primary endpoint of the study is overall response rate (ORR) as determined by an independent review committee, and secondary endpoints include complete response (CR), partial response (PR) and progression-free survival (PFS).
About Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
CLL is one of the most common forms of blood cancer and in 2015, it is expected that there will be about 4,650 deaths from CLL in the United States. In certain cases of CLL, a part of chromosome 17 is lost and along with it an important gene that controls apoptosis (programmed cell death) called p53. The 17p deletion is found in 3 to 10 percent of previously untreated cases and approximately 30 to 50 percent of relapsed or refractory cases. People with 17p deletion CLL have poor results with conventional chemotherapy regimens and a median life expectancy of less than three years.
About Venetoclax (RG7601, GDC-0199/ABT-199)
Venetoclax is an investigational small molecule designed to selectively bind and inhibit the BCL-2 protein, which plays an important role in a process called apoptosis (programmed cell death). It is believed that blocking BCL-2 may restore the signaling system that tells cancer cells to self-destruct. The BCL-2 protein is linked to the development of resistance in certain blood cancers and is expressed in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). In collaboration with AbbVie, venetoclax is being evaluated in a robust development program as a single agent or in combination with other medicines. There are ongoing Phase II and III studies for venetoclax in CLL, and Phase I and II studies are also ongoing in several other blood cancers, including indolent NHL, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and multiple myeloma (MM).