SEATTLE ( TheStreet) -- New details about failed lung cancer immunotherapy from Oncothyreon (ONTY) were revealed for the first time Wednesday night in a research abstract for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.
Stimuvax reduced the risk of death by 12 percent compared to a placebo -- a difference that failed to reach statistical significance by a wide margin, according to detailed results from the phase III study contained in the ASCO abstract.
Oncothyreon and partner Merck KGaA announced last December that the Stimuvax lung cancer study failed to meet its overall survival primary endpoint, but specific data were not disclosed at that time.
The study enrolled 1,513 patients with Stage III non-small cell lung cancer who did not progress after initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation. The patients were randomized to receive injections of Stimuvax or a placebo.Oncothyreon and Merck designed the study with the assumption that placebo-treated patients would live approximately 20 months and that Stimuvax would prolong survival by approximately 6 months, or a 33% relative reduction in the risk of death. In reality, the median overall survival for the placebo-treated patients was 22.3 months compared to 25.6 months for Stimuvax patients. A three-plus month difference in median overall survival favoring Stimuvax seems like a long time but the cancer vaccine's effect on overall survival was far smaller, which is why the study failed. And then there was this statement made by Oncothyreon and Merck last December: "Despite not meeting the primary endpoint, notable treatment effects were seen for