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Synta's Lung Cancer Drug Struggles to Remain Relevant

If there was any enthusiasm for ganetespib going into the ASCO meeting, it's likely taking a hit now that investors have fixated on the anti-PD-1 drugs from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY - Get Report) and Merck (MRK - Get Report). These drugs are producing some of the strongest responses to melanoma ever seen and are also targeting lung cancer.

One oddity from the latest Galaxy-1 update that Synta should answer Monday night when it meets with investors: The median overall survival for normal progressors treated with docetaxel alone was 6.4 months, which is lower than the 7.4 months for all adenocarcinoma patients treated with docetaxel alone. The normal progressors should be living longer, suggesting the hazard ratio of 0.61 might, in reality, be overstating the real effect of the drug.

Ganetespib failed to produce a statistically significant anti-tumor response in the Galaxy-1 trial. In the adenocarcinoma population, confirmed response rate was 14 percent for ganetespib/docetaxel compared to 9 percent for docetaxel alone. In the normal responder subgroup of patients, the response rate was 15 percent to 9 percent favoring ganetespib/docetaxel over docetaxel.

Synta characterized the updated results from the Galaxy-1 study as positive and increasing the likelihood that the confirmatory Galaxy-2 study will be successful.

-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

Follow Adam Feuerstein on Twitter.
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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