Pieris begins gastric cancer combination trial with Lilly’s Cyramza

US biotech Pieris Pharmaceuticals has begun a collaboration and supply agreement with Eli Lilly, trialling its cancer drug PRS-343 in combination with the big pharma’s Cyramza (ramucirumab).

PRS-343 is a bispecific drug targeting the 4-1BB and HER2 receptors, which the companies hope will work well with Cyramza, a VEGFR2 antagonist already approved in several types of solid tumours.

The companies are looking to add a bispecific to Cyramza and the chemotherapy paclitaxel to create a more potent combination therapy in second-line HER2 positive gastric cancer.

Pieris is working towards beginning a phase 2 single-arm combination study later this year.

Lilly will supply Pieris with ramucirumab for the study as well as collaborate on data from the trial.

Stephen Yoder, president and CEO of Pieris, said: “We have seen impressive single-agent activity in the phase 1 trial of PRS-343, including a complete response and many patients experiencing a clinical benefit, and believe there is a compelling biology and clinical rationale to adding PRS-343 to the current standard of care regimen for advanced or metastatic gastric cancer in the second line, ramucirumab and paclitaxel.”

The company says PRS-343 has demonstrated activity both as a single agent and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors in heavily pre-treated patients with HER2-positive tumours.

Pieris is already working with several other big pharma companies, focusing on oncology and respiratory diseases.

In March Servier decided to continue with a collaboration focusing on Pieris’ anticalin technology that began in 2017.

The French pharma decided to focus on the two most advanced drugs in the collaboration while discontinuing two earlier-stage drugs in the tie-up.

In 2017, AstraZeneca signed a deal worth up to $2 billion to develop respiratory drugs and a potential successor to its Fasenra (benralizumab), which is approved in asthma but has failed to produce convincing results in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The lead drug from that project, an IL-4 receptor alpha antagonist, reduced exhaled nitric oxide in mild asthmatics in a phase 1 study, and a phase 2a study is slated to begin later this year.

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