CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (TheStreet) -- A second experimental drug from Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO) designed to attack the "metabolism" of cancer cells has demonstrated early but strong clinical responses in a study involving patients with advanced leukemia.
Of 14 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) evaluable for response, seven patients achieved an objective response to treatment with four escalating doses of the Agios drug known as AG-120. Four of the responding patients had complete remissions, meaning their bone marrow was clear of all cancer cells. Another two patients had near complete remissions. Responses to AG-120 are all ongoing with durations ranging from 15 days to five months.
"With the multiple complete remissions and early suggestion of durability, we're seeing a clear proof of concept with AG-120 and the potential to change the way [AML] is treated," said Agios CEO David Schenkein, in a phone interview from Barcelona where the AG-120 data are being presented at a cancer research meeting.
Based on these early results, Agios plans to enroll significantly more AML patients into the phase I study, all to be treated using the same dose of AG-120. This expanded study will start in the first of 2015. Agios is also testing AG-120 in patients with solid tumors, with results expected next year.
Agios fell 1.3% to close on Tuesday at $83.81, ahead of the announcement of the AG-120 study results. Agio's AG-120 is a pill designed to block a mutated, metabolic enzyme known as IDH1. Normally, cells use IDH1 to help break down nutrients and generate energy. When mutated, IDH1 alters the genetic programming of cells, preventing them from maturing and causing them to grow uncontrollably.