BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Athenex, Inc. announced today a new collaboration to conduct a Phase 1b study that will evaluate the safety and tolerability of oraxol, Athenex's oral form of paclitaxel, in combination with Eli Lilly and Company's CYRAMZA ® (ramucirumab), a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Receptor 2 antagonist, in patients with advanced gastric (stomach) and esophageal cancer. Patient enrollment, currently expected to start in 2017, is planned at sites in the U.S. and Asia. Athenex will be the sponsor of the clinical trial and Lilly will supply CYRAMZA. Dr. Rudolf Kwan, Athenex's Chief Medical Officer, commented, "A major component of cancer treatment consists of intravenous chemotherapy. Many oncologists are currently limited by the amount of standard intravenous chemotherapy a patient can tolerate. Oraxol is the first drug candidate from an innovative technology platform which enables the oral administration of a chemotherapy drug usually administered by the intravenous route (i.e., paclitaxel). The effect of the compound is limited to the intestinal cells, as it is not significantly absorbed in humans. Oral dosing of paclitaxel potentially provides longer drug exposure over a target drug concentration and may offer the opportunity for chronic chemotherapy, which will be evaluated for increased efficacy." Oraxol is also being evaluated in a Phase 3 metastatic breast cancer trial in a head-to-head comparison against intravenous paclitaxel. An open-label Phase 2 study with oraxol as a monotherapy in advanced gastric cancer patients reported median overall survival of 10.7 months. CYRAMZA is approved in the U.S. for use as a single agent or in combination with paclitaxel as a treatment for people with advanced or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma whose cancer has progressed on or after prior fluoropyrimidine- or platinum-containing chemotherapy.