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NewLink Genetics Launches Adaptive Design Phase 2B/3 Clinical Trial Of Tergenpumatucel-L Immunotherapy In Patients With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

AMES, Iowa, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- NewLink Genetics Corporation (Nasdaq: NLNK) announces the launching of an open-label, randomized, multi-institutional adaptive design Phase2B/3 study to evaluate efficacy of its tergenpumatucel-L (HyperAcute® Lung) product candidate in patients with progressive or relapsed Stage-IIIB/IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The Phase 2B portion of the study will evaluate two dosing schedules for tergenpumatucel-L versus docetaxel and the Phase 3 portion of the study will further assess efficacy of the selected dose against docetaxel.   The primary endpoint of the study will be to evaluate survival in second-line therapy for patients with advanced non-small cell (stage IIIB/IV) lung cancer. Secondary objectives include progression free survival, evaluation of tumor response, and immunological response in treated patients. 

"We are pleased to move another promising HyperAcute product candidate with encouraging survival data from Phase 2 into advanced-stage studies," commented Dr. Charles Link, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NewLink.  "Non-small cell lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States."

"Immunotherapies are emerging as one of the most promising next treatment paradigms for cancer patients by allowing the patient's immune system to fight their disease without significant new toxicities. We are excited to participate in this advanced study to evaluate NewLink's innovative HyperAcute Lung immunotherapy in NSCLC," said principal investigator of the study Dr. Ramaswamy Govindan, Professor of Medicine, Co-Director Section of Medical Oncology at the Alvin J Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

"This trial design is based on Phase 2 non-small cell lung cancer data presented at the recent ASCO meeting demonstrating 11.2 months median survival in 2nd and 3rd line patients who failed prior treatment. Our correlative immunological data showing 21.9 vs. 7 months survival in certain patients capable of  generating IFN-gamma responses versus patients who did not mount this response, suggest patients with the best immune responses may have significantly greater long term overall survival.  If these types of data can be confirmed in the new larger, randomized study an important novel therapy will be made available for patients with very limited options. We are delighted to be one of the lead centers," commented principal investigator for the Phase -2 study and Co-PI for the Phase 3 study Dr. John C. Morris, Professor of Medicine, Director of Experimental Therapeutics, Thoracic Cancer and Head & Neck Cancer Programs at University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

Although a number of therapies have been approved in lung cancer, the prognoses for patients remain poor.  "This study is designed to test the hypothesis that patients treated with HyperAcute immunotherapies may be sensitized to subsequent treatments with chemotherapy while also evaluating whether survival benefits observed in our Phase 2 study can be reproduced in a large controlled Phase 3 study," commented Dr. Nick Vahanian, President, Chief Medical Officer, NewLink Genetics.

Adaptive Study Design

This Phase 2B/3 study will enroll patients having a better baseline immune system status relative to the patient population in the earlier Phase 2 study.  In order to be eligible for the study, patients must have Stage IIIB or Stage IV recurrent or treatment refractory non-small cell lung cancer with good performance status (ECOG <2) and no more than one prior chemotherapy failure. A lymphocyte count of >/= 1000/μL, platelets >/= 100,000/μL, hemoglobin >10.0 gm/dL, albumin >/= 3.0 gm/dL and acceptable hepatic and renal function are required for enrollment.

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