Roche faces disappointment as second cancer immunotherapy trial fails

A combination therapy of tiragolumab and Tecentrig fails to slow disease progress in lung cancer.

On Wednesday, Roche announced the second setback to its experimental cancer immunotherapy which is aimed at a cellular target called TIGIT. This marks the second consecutive setback, failing this time to slow the progression of lung cancer in the SKYSCRAPER-01 clinical trial. The combination of Roche’s new drug tiragolumab and their existing drug Tecentriq failed to slow disease progression of an advanced non-small-cell lung cancer in newly diagnosed patients when compared to patients who were only administered Tecentriq. Levi Garraway, Chief Medical Officer at Roche stated, "While these results are not what we hoped for in our first analysis, we look forward to seeing mature overall survival for this study to determine next steps." Roche shares fell as much as 7.4%, the lowest in almost a year.

In March tiragolumab also failed to slow the progression of a more aggressive form of lung cancer in another Phase III trial. The setbacks could potentially disrupt the development efforts of over six companies which are investigating similar compounds in the drug class called anti-TIGIT. Roche plans to continue the trial in order to obtain additional data on tiragolumab’s ability to prolong the lives of the patients. A Credit Suisse analyst stated in a note that investors had hoped that the new drug would become an important next-generation cancer immunotherapy. "We expect that investors will now discount the whole TIGIT franchise at Roche until we see signs of positive efficacy," they added. Roche remains committed to the new drug and stated that a “numerical improvement” was noted the second time around.