Guest: Iman El-Hariry, M.D., Ph.D.
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Iman El-Hariry, M.D., Ph.D. has served as Chief Medical Officer of ERYTECH Pharma, Inc., since June 2015. Prior to her appointment as Chief Medical Officer, she served as President of Azure Oncology Consulting from July 2014 to June 2015 and also assisted us in a consulting role from November 2014 to June 2015. Dr. El-Hariry served as Vice President of Clinical Research at Synta Pharmaceuticals from November 2010 to July 2014 and as Global Head of Oncology at Astellas Pharma, Inc. from June 2009 to July 2010. From 2001 to 2009, she served as Director of Clinical Development, Oncology at Glaxo Smith Kline. Dr. El-Hariry is a licensed oncologist with an M.D. from Alexandria Medical School (Egypt) and a Ph.D. in Cancer Research from Imperial College of Science and Medicine (United Kingdom).
Segment Overview: Dr. Iman El-Hariry, PhD, CMO of Erytech discusses positive results for Erytech’s Phase 2B study of lead product Eryaspase (GRASPA®) in pancreatic cancer.
TRANSCRIPT – ERYTECH
Neal Howard: Thank you for tuning in. I’m your host Neal Howard here on Health Professional Radio, so glad that you could join us. Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells are found in the tissues of the pancreas. Our guest today is Dr. Iman El-Hariry. She’s the CMO of ERYTECH and she’s joining us here on the program today to discuss positive results for their phase 2B study of eryaspase for pancreatic cancer. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. El Hariry.
Dr. Iman El-Hariry: Hello and thank you.
N: Give our listeners a bit of background about yourself and then talk about your role there at ERYTECH.
E: I am Iman El-Hariry. I am the Chief Medical Officer at ERYTECH and I joined the company almost just over two years ago. I had a longer track of drug development experience in oncology which is my medical background. And prior to ERYTECH I worked in large pharmaceutical organizations developing cancer drugs for cancer patients.
N: ERYTECH a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, meaning that you all deal in lots of clinical trials.
E: It is correct. Typically for any drug to be dealt with, it goes through a series of activities starting from working in the lab. You can add the best approach to bring this drug to the clinic. Once it goes in the clinic again, it goes through phases of clinical trials until the drug is shown clear benefit and low risk to be able to get it approved by authorities, for example like the FDA in United States or for some THMP in Europe.
N: Your company has just announced some very positive results from their phase 2B study of eryaspase. This is something one of your products that can be used in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Talk about this study as it relates to pancreatic cancer.
E: Yes, absolutely. This is a trial. It’s what we call surface to proof-of-concept trial, where we looked at the clinical activity of eryaspase in combination with chemotherapy in patients with pancreatic cancer whose disease came back after treatment with other chemotherapy agents. Neal, this group of patients who we call second line disease or eligible for second line treatment typically, these are patients with generally poor clinical outcome and survival is not typically great in this patient population. This trial really looked at whether the addition of eryaspase could perhaps improve the clinical outcome in these patients. This trial was conducted in a hundred and forty-one patients. In fact, the trial was completely conducted in front in several centers in France and the species were randomized to receive either the standard of care chemotherapy or the standard of care added to the eryaspase, our treatment. With this study showed is when you add eryaspase to the standard of care therapy, it actually led to the risk of reduction of this by 40% in that patient population who were treated with the drug. Also it has prolonged the time until the disease came back and it in fact which more importantly it also improved the response rate on the treatment. This is really a very exciting, very interesting development particularly for this disease where survival is typically around a ballpark of four to five months. By improving the survival in this patient, it opens a new alternative options to improve their outcome and their prognosis.
N: You’re talking about second line patients. These are patients as you said if I’m understanding correctly that their disease has come back after being treated with traditional treatments. Is that correct?
E: It is correct. Unfortunately pancreatic cancer is one of those diseases where it is generally diagnosed very late. 34% of patients are eligible to have surgical treatment but most patients when they are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, they are really requiring systemic chemotherapy treatment. This is either across Europe or United States. So basically when these patients are treated, there is a decent proportion of patients where unfortunately the disease comes back and this is one we call it a second line. I mean they are eligible to receive a second round of chemotherapy perhaps to alleviate the symptoms and to treat their disease.
N: Is there any instance where this new treatment can be implemented upon diagnosis or is it always after we wait and see if the pancreatic cancer is going to return after the initial treatment?
E: Well this is a very interesting and very good question. Typically at this stage what we have investigated is the addition of eryaspase in combination scheme in a second line setting. Clearly with this interesting news we will also like to look at other settings for example, whether patients when they first diagnosed can be treated with chemo and eryaspase, i.e. there is line setting or in the future could be also looking at the time of diagnosis maybe before surgery and new trials show that treatment with chemotherapy before surgery can lead to improvement in a case in the surgical outcome. Yes, the short answer there would be interesting opportunities to test eryaspase in different settings for patients with pancreatic cancer. In this stage, this is the first set of results that we have generated in this disease.
N: Talk briefly about a couple of the other products that you’re developing there at ERYTECH that also deal with cancer.
E: Absolutely. It is best actually. It’s the first drug at ERYTECH where not only we are testing it in pancreatic cancer but also in other hematological cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. These are trials in phase 2 and phase 3. So it gives the latest of this development. We do however have other drug tests that are currently still at the lab stage where we can add the activity in maybe different tumor types. But the overall arching objective here at ERYTECH is developing drugs that can deal with cancer metabolism. Cancer metabolism is actually one of the oldest areas of research in cancer biology even before the discovery of the new oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes by almost 4 to 5 decades. What we’re doing here is looking for new agents to tackle cancer metabolism which can certainly lead to an improvement in this disease outcome. We have two drugs in the pipeline right now. We are also looking at immuno oncology agents, a combination which also these agents that are part of the cancer metabolism. In terms of different tumor types cleanly the door is wide open for us and again with the results with eryaspase, it’s providing a very initial interesting paradigm for us to go into other diseases as well as other targets.
N: Well we’d like to go online and get some more information about your company and some of these groundbreaking treatments that your company is developing. Where can we go and get more information about ERYTECH?
E: Our website has information about our drugs and some of the presentations that’d been presented publicly in medical conferences either in Europe or United States. This is a good start for additional information.
N: Well I appreciate you coming in and speaking with us today Doctor.
E: Thank you very much Neal.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard with Dr. Iman El-Hariry. Transcripts and audio of the program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au also at hpr.fm. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud and visit our affiliates page on our platform at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au.