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Immunomedics Reports Updated Clinical Results On Potential New Treatment Regimens For Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Stocks in this article: IMMU

New Regimens Combine Radioimmunotherapy With Yttrium-90-labeled Epratuzumab and Anti-CD20 Immunotherapy

Two Studies Updated at 2012 Annual Meeting of American Society of Hematology (ASH) Including an Oral Presentation

ATLANTA, Dec. 11, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Immunomedics, Inc. (Nasdaq:IMMU), a biopharmaceutical company primarily focused on the development of monoclonal antibody-based products for the targeted treatment of cancer, autoimmune and other serious diseases, today reported that small, repeated doses of epratuzumab labeled with the radioisotope, yttrium-90 ( 90Y), demonstrated therapeutic activity in 2 clinical trials in patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Epratuzumab is a humanized antibody that binds to the CD22 receptor on B cells. In various clinical trials, epratuzumab was found to be active as an unlabeled antibody in patients with NHL or lupus. Previous clinical studies have also demonstrated that repeated administration of small doses of 90Y-epratuzumab are tolerable in NHL patients and produced high rates of durable responses.

Despite recent advances in the use of antibody for the management of NHL, aggressive NHLs have proven to be more resistant to currently approved antibody therapies unless they are combined with chemotherapy. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLCBL) is the most common type of aggressive NHL, with approximately 20,000 new patients diagnosed each year in the United States. The standard-of-care for DLBCL is combining the anti-CD20 antibody, rituximab, with the CHOP chemotherapy regimen, or R-CHOP. However, elderly patients who fail R-CHOP have a poor outcome. Due to advanced age, chemo-resistant disease, and/or concurrent co-morbid medical conditions, a significant percentage of these patients are not eligible for high-dose salvage therapy or stem cell transplant. Consequently, there is a need for alternative therapy for high-risk patients with a lower chance of being cured with standard R-CHOP.

An innovative approach for NHL therapy that the Company and its outside collaborators are developing is to combine antibody-directed radiation therapy using 90Y-epratuzumab with antibody therapy targeting a different antigen. Since the two antibodies bind to two distinct antigens and do not cross-block each other, this concept may offer more synergy than current NHL radioimmunotherapy that employs unlabeled antibody targeting the same B-cell antigen.

Updated results from a multicenter Phase II trial sponsored by the French LYSA study group were reported in an oral presentation at this year's ASH Annual Meeting by Pierre Soubeyran, MD, PhD, of the Bergonié Cancer Institut, Bordeaux, France. The goal of this open-label study is to evaluate 90Y-epratuzumab given in small doses as consolidation therapy after R-CHOP in previously untreated elderly patients with advanced DLBCL. Primary end-point of the study is 2-year event-free survival (EFS).

At the time of reporting, a total of 75 patients between the ages of 60 and 80 years had been enrolled to receive 6 cycles of R-CHOP therapy, with 61 patients eligible for 2 consolidation treatments of 90Y-epratuzumab at 15 mCi/m 2.

Using the 1999 International Workshop for Response Criteria for NHL, the overall response rate (ORR) after 6 cycles of R-CHOP therapy was 94.6% (71/75), with 52 patients (69.3%) achieving a complete or unconfirmed complete response (CR/CRu) and 19 patients (25.3%) reporting a partial response (PR). At a median follow-up of 24 months (range from 1 - 46), 18 patients experienced lymphoma progression and/or related death, yielding an estimated 2-year EFS of 73.3% (60.7 - 82.5%) and an estimated 2-year overall survival (OS) of 83.2% (71.4 - 90.4%).

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