News / Health

GSK Cancer Vaccine Fails Again, Testing Continues

FILE - The logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is seen on its office building in Shanghai.
FILE - The logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is seen on its office building in Shanghai.
Reuters
An experimental cancer vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline has failed in a second test - this time against lung cancer - but the British company said it still hoped to identify a sub-group of patients on which it would work.
 
Thursday's news that the MAGE-A3 therapeutic vaccine did not help patients with non-small cell lung cancer in a late-stage study is a further blow to the high-risk, high-reward project after a similar setback in melanoma in September.
 
Unlike traditional preventative vaccines, the MAGE-A3 treatment is designed for people with established disease, helping their immune systems to prevent the return of disease after surgery.
 
The large Phase III study, involving more than 2,000 lung cancer patients, found that the experimental therapy did not help patients live longer without their disease recurring.
 
Nonetheless, GSK plans to continue the clinical trial in the hope of finding a sub-population that will benefit. It is also doing the same with patients suffering from melanoma and results of analyzes looking at these sub-sets of patients with particular genetic profiles are expected in 2015.
 
Vincent Brichard, head of immunotherapeutics at GSK Vaccines, said the company was disappointed by the outcome but remained committed to the project.
 
Shares in GSK fell by 2 percent by 0945 GMT, underperforming a 0.7 percent decline in the European drugs sector.
 
Many investors had been expecting a disappointing read-out from the lung cancer study, following the earlier setback in melanoma, and there are doubts as to whether GSK will be able to prove the vaccine works for a smaller group of genetically selected patients.
 
But despite the problems GSK Chief Executive Andrew Witty painted a surprisingly upbeat picture of prospects for MAGE-A3 at full-year results last month. Witty described the cancer vaccine and another drug for heart disease called darapladib that has also disappointed in tests as among the most promising in the company's pipeline.
 
10 percent chance
 
Citi analyst Andrew Baum said he estimated there was a 10 percent probability that MAGE-A3 could result in a significant benefit in a gene-signature defined population group, which would still be a substantial market.
 
As a result, Citi has a risk-adjusted sales forecast for the product of 216 million pounds ($360 million) in 2022.
 
Other companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and Merck & Co, have had some recent notable successes in clinical trials of innovative drugs to boost the immune system, but GSK is still pushing the scientific boundaries with its vaccine-based approach.
 
So-called immunotherapy, in which the body's own immune system is enlisted to fight tumor cells, is a hot area of pharmaceutical research and development at the moment, although cancer vaccines have proved difficult to develop over the years.
 
U.S.-based Agenus has contributed technology to the GSK vaccine and its shares are sensitive to news on the project. The vaccine contains Agenus' QS-21 Stimulon adjuvant, or booster.
 
Although news on MAGE-A3 and darapladib has been disappointing for GSK, the company's overall drug research has been improving recently, with notable new drug approvals in 2013 for HIV, cancer and respiratory disease.
 
GSK, which is the only major drugmaker to report its internal rate of return on R&D investment, said last month that returns had now reached 13 percent, up from 12 percent two years earlier and 11 percent in 2010. It has set a target of reaching 14 percent.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid