Oncolytics Biotech's Reolysin provides 'incredible shrinking returns'
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


CALGARY—Sometimes, putting a stop to growth is good for a business and incredible shrinking returns are something to look forward to, as evidenced by Oncolytics Biotech Inc.'s Monday announcement that 92 percent of patients in a recent trial experienced tumor shrinkage, a bit of news that caused the company's stock price to surge in Monday trading.
Trading opened at $2.93 per share compared to the $2.65 to $2.70 it had been holding at since Sept. 3. It hit a high of about $3.50 near midday, finally settling at $2.99 by the close of day Monday.
The company had announced final tumor response data from its U.S.-based Phase II single-arm clinical trial in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung using intravenous administration of the drug Reolysin in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel (REO 021).
The analysis examined "percent best overall tumor responses" between pretreatment and up to six treatment cycles. Of 25 evaluable patients who had more than one cycle of therapy, 23 (roughly 92%) exhibited overall tumor shrinkage at a mean amount of 32.7 percent reduction.
"We are thrilled to have demonstrated 92-percent overall tumor shrinkage in this group of patients," said Dr. Brad Thompson, president and CEO of Oncolytics. "Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung is notoriously difficult to treat, and these results support further investigation of Reolysin in randomized clinical trials for this indication."
The study enrolled patients with metastatic stage IIIB or stage IV, or recurrent, squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, who were chemotherapy-naïve for their metastatic or recurrent cancer. The primary objective of the trial is to evaluate the patients' tumor response. The secondary objectives are to assess progression-free survival and overall survival for the treatment regimen in the study population; to determine the proportion of patients receiving the above treatment who were alive and free of disease progression at six months; and to assess the safety and tolerability of the treatment regimen in the study population.
Final progression-free survival and safety data for the study will be reported later in 2013.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, approximately 228,190 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed. Between 85 percent and 90 percent of all lung cancers are classified as non-small cell lung cancer; squamous cell carcinomas account for 25 percent to 30 percent of all lung cancers. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, with an expected 159,480 deaths from lung cancer in the United States in 2013, accounting for some 27 percent of all cancer deaths.
Oncolytics is a Calgary-based biotechnology company focused on the development of oncolytic viruses as potential cancer therapeutics. Oncolytics' clinical program includes a variety of human trials including a Phase III trial in head and neck cancers using Reolysin, its proprietary formulation of the human reovirus.

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