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Glaxo’s Immunotherapy Fails to Help Lung Cancer Patients

An experimental GlaxoSmithKline Plc product didn’t work in a lung cancer study, the second time the medicine failed an advanced test against cancer.

The therapy known as MAGE-A3 didn’t help patients with non-small cell lung cancer live longer without the disease recurring, the London-based company said in a statement today. Glaxo plans to continue to study the treatment in a smaller group of patients who may respond better to the drug based on their genetic makeup.

The treatment is an immunotherapy, designed to stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It also failed to meet the goal of a late-stage study in patients with melanoma, Glaxo said Sept. 5. Expectations for the product were low because earlier tests showed a lack of a T-cell response to the injection, a sign that the immune system may not be reacting, said Andrew Baum, an analyst for Citigroup Inc.

“We continue to estimate a 10 percent probability that Glaxo’s MAGE-A3 vaccine could result in a significant benefit in a gene signature defined population,” London-based Baum said in a note to investors today.

Glaxo fell 2.1 percent to 1,620.5 pence at 10:36 a.m. in London trading. Agenus Inc., which developed the stimulating component of the treatment, fell 27 percent to $3.15 in trading before U.S. exchanges opened.

As with the lung cancer trial, Glaxo is continuing to study the drug in skin cancer to see if it can work in a sub-group of patients. The treatment is designed to work by targeting MAGE-A3, an antigen that is expressed in certain cancer cells and not in healthy cells.

If successful in continuing studies of the therapy, the company may file for marketing approval in both indications for the smaller groups of patients, Glaxo and Agenus said today.

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