SignalChem Lifesciences, a clinical-stage company who develop novel targeted therapies for oncology, has announced its collaboration with Merck, through a subsidiary, to evaluate the combination of SLC-391, a selective AXL inhibitor developed by SignalChem, with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
AXL, a member of the TAM family protein tyrosine kinases (Tyro3, AXL and Mer), to critical to cell survival, angiogenesis, metastasis and therapeutic resistance. SLC-391 is a clinical stage small molecule AXL inhibitor with high potency, selectivity and desirable pharmaceutical properties. SLC-391 disrupts cell division, inhibits tumour growth and causes cancer cells to die.
SignalChem will conduct the study in multiple cancer centres in the US and Canada to evaluate the clinical outcome of the combination. The two companies plan to conduct the SKYLITE trial, a phase II study for patients with NSCLC.
Subjects will receive daily doses of SLC-391 orally for 21-day cycles in combination with the commercially approved dose and schedule of KEYTRUDA. The SKYLITE trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the combination therapy, and includes the exploration of biomarkers relating to AXL signalling that may correlate with anti-tumour activity.
“We welcome the collaboration with Merck. We consider Merck’s clinical development expertise to be valuable and believe this relationship may contribute to the development of SLC-391 for the treatment of patients with advanced stage lung cancer. These patients experience aggressive tumours that are often difficult to treat. We hope this collaboration with Merck will lead to a new approach that addresses this important unmet need,” said Mr. Jun Yan, President, SignalChem Lifesciences. “We look forward to partnering with Merck as we aim to deliver new cancer treatments and advance SLC’s drug discovery platform. We at SLC are working hard to identify new anti-tumour, anti-metastatic, and anti-chemo-resistance therapies that provide meaningful alternatives to existing treatments.”