Idera Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDRA) reported supplementary data from the dose-escalation stage of its Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its metastatic melanoma combination therapy involving its intra-tumoral drug candidate IMO-2125. (For more, see Top Cancer Drugs with High Future Sales Potential.) The company said it successfully achieved all the desired objectives of the early-stage trial.

The therapy combines IMO-2125 with ipilimumab or pembrolizumab for metastatic melanoma in patients with disease that is refractory to PD-1 inhibitors. The study showed that the drug was safe for all the evaluated doses, demonstrated early-stage evidence of clinical activity, and generated stable responses in two of the assessed patients of over a year.

The Orlando, Florida-based company also said the drug combo demonstrated proof of mechanism, “which has gone well beyond the norm compared to what is typically done in oncology drug development.”

Buoyed by the positive results, Idera said it will continue development of IMO-2125, and commence a Phase 2 study soon.

The next key update on the drug development program is expected by early April, which will include presentation of new IMO-2125 pre-clinical data, and the translational data outcomes.

Idera has also initiated another parallel evaluation of IMO-2125 in combination with pembrolizumab.

The body’s immune system, with the help of toll-like receptors (TLRs), defends the body against attacking pathogens, and damaged or dysfunctional cells which may include cancerous cells. A defense mechanism also includes invoking specific immune response to target specific conditions. At times, cancer cells may utilize certain pathways that often shield them from being recognized and targeted by the immune system. IMO-2125 is an agonist of TLR9 that may increase the anti-cancer activity and offer an effective mode for cancer treatment.

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, accounts for only 1% of all skin cancer cases, but the disorder leads to high death rate. In 2016, more than 76,000 new melanoma cases and more than 10,000 deaths were attributed to the disease. (See also, Idera Signs Licensing Pact for Nixed GI Drug.)

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.