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Phanes Therapeutics, Merck to Study PT886-Keytruda Combo in CLDN 18.2-Positive Gastric Cancer

NEW YORK – Phanes Therapeutics on Monday said it will study its bispecific antibody PT886 with Merck's checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in patients with claudin 18.2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancers.

Phanes and Merck will work together to expand an ongoing Phase I clinical trial in which Phanes is evaluating single-agent PT886. This collaboration will add a cohort assessing the activity of PT886 with Keytruda, with or without chemotherapy.

In the initial dose-escalation portion of the trial, patients did not need to have confirmed CLDN 18.2-positive tumors to enroll. In the dose-expansion portion, however, patients' tumors must express CLDN 18.2, as determined by immunohistochemistry testing. Additionally, Phanes has been enrolling pancreatic cancer patients in the PT886 monotherapy portion of the trial, but enrollment in the Keytruda-PT886 cohort will be limited to those with gastric and gastroesophageal junction tumors.

San Diego-based Phanes believes that PT886, which targets CLDN 18.2 and CD47, will have a complementary anti-tumor effect when it is combined with Keytruda, a PD-1 inhibitor.

Phanes' PT886 has garnered orphan drug designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for pancreatic cancer.

Separately, Phanes has been evaluating a CD73 inhibitor, PT199, in advanced solid tumors, including those that express CD73 and PD-L1, among other biomarkers.