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The first real clinical test of the cancer immunotherapy combination thesis has come back negative.

Incyte said Friday that its experimental drug epacadostat failed to improve the efficacy of Merck’s checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda when the two drugs were used together to treat patients with newly diagnosed melanoma.


The negative outcome of the Incyte Phase 3 clinical trial, known as ECHO-301, has far-ranging ramifications. It’s a big setback for Incyte and for melanoma patients. But the trial results could also ripple across the fledgling cancer immunotherapy field and the biotech stock sector.

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  • THANK GOD this episode of corporate mass hysteria is over. A drug that failed a monotherapy trial, only had single-arm add-on non-comparative data for itself (= nothing), and “pre-clinical efficacy” at 10x human doses in cherry-picked cell lines, has been rushed into God knows how many trials just for p-hacking purposes and hailed as the philosophical stone.

    I’m sorry for patients that such bogus projects are allowed to vacuum shareholder/taxpayer dollars, but since they are, the sooner these “experiments” are killed the better for biomedicine.

    Moral of the story : (1) pre-clinical and pharmacokinetics matter and (2) regulators should apply more Darwinian love to the pipeline.

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