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BerGenBio starts new trial

Richard Godfrey

The first patient has been dosed in an investigator-initiated phase II trial of bemcentinib, a selective, potent and orally bio-available AXL inhibitor, in patients with high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) who have failed first-line treatment with hypomethylating agents.

The trial (BGBIL009 / BERGAMO) aims to confirm the efficacy of bemcentinib monotherapy in patients with high-risk MDS and AML and will enrol up to 43 patients at 8 hospitals in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy. The study will allow for the evaluation of potential predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers for MDS in bone marrow and blood, including those associated with patient benefit from bemcentinib.

Novel therapies are needed

“As treatment of MDS and AML has not changed significantly over the past decades, novel therapies are urgently needed. The survival is still dismal, especially in elderly patients who are not eligible for allogeneic stem cell transplantation and who have failed first line treatment with hypomethylating agents. AXL, a member of the Tyro3, AXL, Mer (TAM) receptor family, mediates proliferation and survival of leukemic cells and is upregulated upon cytostatic treatment. Pre-clinical studies with the inhibitor bemcentinib demonstrated in vitro and in mouse models that leukaemic proliferation was blocked by interference with AXL signalling. Hence, AXL represents a promising new target for the patient population investigated in the BERGAMO trial,” said Prof. Uwe Platzbecker, lead investigator of the trial and director of the Medical Clinic and Policlinic 1, Hematology and Cell Therapy at the University Hospital in Leipzig, Germany.

“We are very pleased that Prof. Platzbecker and GWT-TUD are initiating this study, which if positive will add valuable information on bemcentinib’s monotherapy use in a larger leukaemia population and provide support for our broader development plans for bemcentinib in these indications. We look forward to reporting results as the trial progresses,” said Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio.

The trial may also enrol a proportion of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) reports the company. The study is being sponsored by GWT-TUD GmbH (a specialist cancer clinical research institution associated with the University of Dresden, Germany) with the support of BerGenBio.

Photo of Richard Godfrey: BerGenBio