Infinity Dares to Think Big Against Pancreatic Cancer, Prepares to Show Early Results This Weekend

6/2/11Follow @xconomy

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as curing cancer in people. Seeing tumor shrinkage in three of the first nine patients in a clinical trial does help confirm what Infinity saw in its preclinical studies, but sometimes just because a drug shrinks tumors in the short term doesn’t always mean it will prolong lives in the long term.

That’s why Infinity has designed the ongoing study of 120 patients so that half will get the usual gemcitabine and a placebo, and the other half will get gemcitabine and IPI-926. The company will compare how long patients live in those two groups. This isn’t a squishy, subjective trial endpoint that could lead a drug into a dead end of endless semantic debates about whether a tumor on a CT scan actually shrank or not.

“Overall survival is a hard endpoint. It’s the only standard that means anything in pancreatic cancer,” Adams says.

Lots of conjectures will be made this weekend over what kind of odds this new Infinity drug has against a very tough opponent in pancreatic cancer. When I pooh-poohed some of the data in my chat with Adams, he acknowledged it’s all very early, and that it’s a long way away from taking center stage at ASCO, if it ever gets there. His main goal for ASCO this year will be to clearly explain the science to the clinical investigators, who can help make the drug succeed through their enthusiasm for recruiting patients.

So far, so good. But Adams did allow himself the luxury of dreaming just a little bit bigger, about what might happen if the new Infinity drug can help pancreatic cancer patients live even a little bit longer. The drug could then be tested in forms of pancreatic cancer that haven’t spread through the body, or in tandem with other forms of chemotherapy. It will probably be another year before Infinity knows for sure whether it has a drug that can be pushed forward aggressively on multiple fronts.

“The good news is investigators are enthused, they love the science, and the explanation here. It really allows us a lot of other avenues for investigation,” Adams says.

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