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Ascentage Pharma Announces Clinical Trial Collaboration Agreement with MSD to Evaluate APG-115 in Combination With KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Advanced Solid Tumors

SUZHOU, China, and ROCKVILLE, Md., July 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ascentage Pharma (6855.HK), a global, clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel therapies for cancers, chronic hepatitis B (CHB), and senesce diseases, today announced a clinical collaboration with MSD to evaluate the combination of APG-115, Ascentage's MDM2-p53 inhibitor, and KEYTRUDA®(pembrolizumab), MSD's anti-PD-1 therapy, for the treatment of patients with advanced solid tumors.

Under the agreement, Ascentage will sponsor an open-label, multicenter, phase Ib/II study (NCT03611868) is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of APG-115 with KEYTRUDA® in multiple cohorts of solid tumors (i,e., NSCLC, melanoma, Urothelial cancer, Liposarcoma, MPNST and ATM mutated/p53 WT tumors resistant or relapsed to PD-1/PD-L1 treatment or without previous PD-1/PD-L1 treatment). The Phase II portion of the study has initiated and is expected to enroll 80 patients at multiple sites in the US.  MSD and Ascentage will use a joint development committee to exchange information about the study.

Preclinical studies demonstrated that APG-115 promoted the production of proinflammatory cytokines in T cells, enhanced CD4+ T cell activation, and increased PD-L1 expression on various tumor cells. Enhanced antitumor activity was demonstrated in various tumor models after APG-115 was combined with PD-1 blockade. Results of the phase 1b portion of this trial was recently published at ASCO2020 and demonstrated that APG-115 in combination with pembrolizumab is well-tolerated, with encouraging anti-tumor effects in several tumor types.

"We are excited to collaborate with MSD, a pharmaceutical industry leader. APG-115 is a key drug candidate in our development pipeline targeting apoptosis, with great potential in the treatment of advanced solid tumors," said Dr. Dajun Yang, Chairman & CEO of Ascentage Pharma. "Based on the promising Phase Ib data, we are looking forward to working closely with MSD to further study the combination of APG-115 with KEYTRUDA®, potentially offering more effective treatment options to patients with advanced solid tumors."

KEYTRUDA® is a registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.

About APG-115

APG-115 is an orally administered, selective, small-molecule inhibitor of the MDM2-p53 PPI. APG-115 has strong binding affinity to MDM2 and is designed to activate p53 tumor suppression activity by blocking the MDM2-p53 PPI. Ascentage Pharma has previously commenced three clinical trials of APG-115 in the US, including a Phase I study as single agent, a Phase Ib/II study in combination with pembrolizumab for treatment of metastatic melanoma and other advanced solid tumors, and a Phase I/II study as a single agent or in combination with chemotherapy for treatment of salivary gland cancer. APG-115 is the first MDM2-p53 inhibitor to enter clinical studies in China. A Phase I study as a single agent, and a Phase Ib study as a single agent or in combination with chemotherapy for treatment of AML (acute myeloid leukemia) or MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) are ongoing in China.

About Ascentage Pharma

Ascentage Pharma (6855.HK) is a globally, clinical-stage biotechnology company engaged in developing novel therapies for cancers, CHB, and senesce diseases. On October 28, 2019, Ascentage Pharma was listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited with the stock code: 6855.HK.

Ascentage Pharma focuses on developing therapeutics that inhibit protein-protein interactions to restore apoptosis, or programmed cell death. The company has built a pipeline of eight clinical drug candidates, including novel, highly potent Bcl-2, and dual Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitors, as well as candidates aimed at IAP and MDM2-p53 pathways, and next-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Ascentage Pharma is also the only company in the world with active clinical programs targeting all three known classes of key apoptosis regulators. The company is conducting more than 30 Phase I/II clinical trials in the US, Australia, and China. The company's core drug candidate HQP1351 was recently granted orphan drug and fast-track designations by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a New Drug Application for HQP1351 has been submitted in China.

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Last Updated: 06-Jul-2020