Novartis’s canakinumab always looked like a long shot in cancer, and today the company confirmed the worst: the Canopy-2 trial, in second or third-line metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, has failed. The anti-IL-1 beta antibody is still in a couple more pivotal NSCLC studies, but these must now be regarded as pretty slim hopes. The Swiss group's stock sank 1% today, but a bigger loser was Cantargia, the developer of the next most advanced similar project: Can04 or nidanilimab, which inhibits the IL-1 receptor accessory protein, is in a phase II study in several solid tumours and could yield data next year. Can04, like canakinumab, is also being tested in combination with Keytruda. Its 2026 sales forecasts sit at $564m, according to EvaluatePharma’s sellside consensus. Cantargia’s investors have been spooked by the cana readout; the company’s shares are down 23% so far today. Meanwhile, Novartis has another shot at IL-1 with VPM087, or gevokizumab, which is in a phase I basket trial. An allosteric inhibitor of IL-1 beta, gevokizumab has a slightly different mechanism than the competitive inhibitor cana, but success for the follow-on project now also looks dicey.
|Anti-IL-1 projects in development for cancer|
|Project||Company||Description||Indication(s)||Trial details & readouts|
|Canakinumab||Novartis||Anti-IL-1 beta MAb (competitive inhibitor)||NSCLC||Canopy-2, 2L (NCT03626545), failed; Canopy-1, 1L, Keytruda combo (NCT03631199), data due H2 2021; Canopy-A, adjuvant (NCT03447769), data due 2022|
|Can04 (nidanilimab)||Cantargia||Anti-IL1RAP MAb||Solid tumours incl pancreatic cancer & NSCLC||Ph2 Canfour (NCT03267316), completed Dec 2020; Ph1 Keytruda combo (NCT04452214), completes Jan 2022|
|VPM087 (gevokizumab)||Novartis||Anti-IL-1 beta MAb (allosteric inhibitor)||Colorectal, renal & gastro-oesophageal cancers||1L (NCT03798626)|
|Source: EvaluatePharma & clinicaltrials.gov.|