Results from a phase 2 study of sonepcizumab were published in the journal Cancer this week and showed encouraging overall survival and a favourable safety profile, although the study did not reach its primary endpoint of 2-month progression-free survival (PFS). However, despite the modest PFS (mean of 2.2 months), the encouraging overall survival warrant further investigation of sonepcizumab in combination with immunotherapies and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors.

Despite recent multiple advances in the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC), a majority of patients remain incurable. Researchers have discovered that resistance to VEGF inhibitors might be mediated by a substance called sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). Therefore, blocking the action of S1P with inhibitors may overcome this resistence.

Sonepcizumab is the first inhibitor of S1P in development, and was administered to 40 patients with mRCC who had received prior VEGF inhibitor therapy in the phase 2 study. Patients had received a median of three prior therapies, and 78% of patients had intermediate-risk disease. Median PFS was 2.2 months and overall survival was 21.7 months in this patient population.

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