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Nektar Presents Target-Specific Biomarkers Being Assessed in Ongoing Phase 3 BEACON Study of Etirinotecan Pegol for the Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer at the 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting

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Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) recently announced that it presented a series of target-specific biomarkers that are being evaluated in the development of etirinotecan pegol for the treatment of breast cancer. Etirinotecan pegol is a unique, next generation, targeted topoisomerase I inhibitor currently in Phase 3 clinical development as a potential treatment for patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer. The BEACON (BrEAst Cancer Outcomes with NKTR-102) Phase 3 Study is a randomized, open-label, international study that is evaluating single agent etirinotecan pegol in patients who have previously received an anthracycline, a taxane and capecitabine (ATC) versus a comparator arm consisting of an active single agent treatment of physician’s choice (TPC).

“One of our objectives in treating metastatic breast cancer is to prospectively identify patients that will respond to specific treatments so they can achieve the optimal individualized care,” said Hope Rugo, M.D., Director of Breast Oncology and Clinical Trials Education at the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center and Member of the BEACON Study investigator steering committee. “The goal of evaluating these important biomarkers in patients enrolled into the BEACON study is to help us understand which breast cancer patients might have the best clinical outcomes from treatment with etirinotecan pegol.”

A series of assays for target-specific pharmacodynamic biomarkers for etirinotecan pegol, including the molecular target topoisomerase I, have been established and are being measured in the Phase 3 BEACON study. The biomarkers were identified from Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) samples which were collected prior to patient treatment. Additional CTC patient samples are being collected at regular intervals during treatment and at the end of treatment. Preliminary results from the initial pre-dose samples found CTCs in over 90% of patient samples, with a median of 200 CTCs per 7.5 mL blood draw. Patient participation in the CTC sub-set of the BEACON study is projected to be over 75%. Measurements of each biomarker expression over time will be analyzed in order to identify potential predictive biomarkers for clinical response to etirinotecan pegol.

“We are pleased to have identified several baseline pharmacodynamic biomarkers, which are target-specific such as topoisomerase 1, and which can be reliably measured over the patient’s treatment period,” said Robert Medve, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Nektar Therapeutics. “The measurement of these biomarkers in the BEACON study will help us understand and shape the future treatment of patients with etirinotecan pegol. Enrollment in the BEACON study is well ahead of schedule and we expect to complete the target enrollment of 840 patients in the third quarter of 2013.”

Circulating Tumor Cells are cancer cells shed from either the primary tumor or its metastases that circulate in the peripheral blood. CTCs are emerging tumor biomarkers, collected through a minimally invasive blood draw, providing a “liquid” biopsy sample and allowing for post-treatment monitoring of the patient. CTCs provide well-defined targets for the understanding of tumor biology and tumor cell dissemination, which offers a unique approach to identify novel therapeutic targets and understand resistance to established therapies.

Source: Nektar Therapeutics