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Viralytics reports progress on cancer drug

Viralytics Ltd. reported results from two ongoing phase 1b trials evaluating its drug Cavatak in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.

In one trial, Cavatak in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s anti CTLA-4 cancer drug Yervoy achieved a 67% best overall response rate in patients with advanced melanoma who did not previously respond to checkpoint therapy.

"Although the number of patients treated on the trial are small at this point, I am impressed with these results in heavily pre-treated patients. The combination of an oncolytic virus such as CAVATAK with an anti-CTLA-4 represents a new option if our early results are confirmed with further investigation," Brendan Curti, the principal investigator of the trial, said in a statement.

In the other trial, Viralytics is studying Cavatak in combination with Merck & Co. Inc.'s anti PD-1 cancer therapy Keytruda, to establish a recommended dosing regimen and evaluate anti-cancer activity in patients with advanced non-small cell lung or metastatic bladder cancer.

To date, 17 subjects have been treated, with 15 still on trial. Only one grade 3 Cavatak-related adverse event of hyponatremia, or low sodium level in the blood, has been reported so far.