BeyondSpring Announces New Positive PROTECTIVE-2 Phase 3 Registrational Trial Results

In Clinical Studies News by Barbara Jacoby


BeyondSpring (the “Company” or “BeyondSpring”) (NASDAQ: BYSI), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative cancer therapies, today announced the new data from its Phase 3 PROTECTIVE-2 Study 106 demonstrating that plinabulin in combination with pegfilgrastim offers greater protection against chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN) than the standard of care, pegfilgrastim alone. The study not only met the primary and key secondary objectives, as previously disclosed on Nov. 16, 2020, but also demonstrated that the combination was 53% more effective than pegfilgrastim alone in reducing the incidence of profound neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count or ANC < 0.1 x 10E9 cells/L), 21.6% vs. 46.4%, respectively, p=0.0001, in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy with TAC (docetaxel, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide). Profound neutropenia (PN) is a well-known risk factor to increase the rates of infection, febrile neutropenia (FN), and hospitalization among patients undergoing chemotherapy. Of clinical importance, the combination has shown to reduce the odds of having FN by 41% in comparison to pegfilgrastim, based on reduction of profound neutropenia.

“It is clinically meaningful to reduce FN risk by 41% in the combination, compared to pegfilgrastim alone, which is the only major breakthrough advancement in CIN prevention in the last 30 years. The CIN protection from plinabulin added to pegfilgrastim, particularly in the first week of chemotherapy when 75% of CIN-related complications occur before the effect of pegfilgrastim kicks-in in Week 2, fills the treatment gap in current standard of care,” said Douglas Blayney, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Stanford Medical School, and global PI for the plinabulin CIN studies. “The combination of plinabulin with pegfilgrastim represents a major advancement in offering protection against CIN, with the potential to reduce FN risk, in the care of cancer patients.”

The data were presented via a poster at the 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS): “Superior and Clinically Meaningful Protection Against Profound Neutropenia with the Plinabulin/Pegfilgrastim (Plin/Peg) Combination versus Peg In Breast Cancer Patients Receiving TAC Chemotherapy.” Profound neutropenia, an exploratory endpoint representing the most severe form of CIN, is associated with significant risk to patients and may require antibacterial or antifungal prophylaxis [Flowers JCO 2013]. It is attributed to both febrile neutropenia (48%) and infection (50%) [Bodey Cancer 1978]. In BeyondSpring’s PROTECTIVE-2 studies, patients with profound neutropenia had close to nine times the risk of FN compared to patients with no profound neutropenia. The new data presented at SABCS included:

  • 53% reduction in profound neutropeniaincidence: combination (21.6%) vs. pegfilgrastim alone (46.4%), p=0.0001;
  • 50% reduction in mean duration of profound neutropenia: combination (0.3 day) vs. pegfilgrastim alone (0.6 day), p= 0.0004;
  • The combination reduces the odds of FN by 41% vs. pegfilgrastim alone, due to its ability to reduce patients’ exposure to profound neutropenia.

This trial is a global, multicenter, randomized, double-blinded study in patients with breast cancer undergoing myelosuppressive chemotherapy with TAC (docetaxel at 75 mg/m2, doxorubicin at 50 mg/m2, and cyclophosphamide at 500 mg/m2) for the evaluation of protection against CIN, comparing plinabulin (40 mg) in combination with pegfilgrastim (6 mg) in 111 patients to pegfilgrastim alone (6 mg) in 110 patients. On Day 1, they received TAC and plinabulin or placebo, and on Day 2, they received pegfilgrastim. Topline data from the Protective-2 Phase 3 trial were reported on November 16, 2020 highlighting that the study met its primary endpoint as well as key secondary endpoints.

“It is well recognized that CIN is directly related to chemotherapy’s ability to kill rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, fast dividing neutrophils in the bone marrow are adversely affected regardless of the chemotherapy type. As a result, we believe these outcomes are universally applicable to any chemotherapy, and are independent of cancer types,” added Gordon Schooley, Ph.D., BeyondSpring’s Chief Regulatory Officer. “As both the U.S. FDA and China NMPA recently awarded BeyondSpring’s Plinabulin CIN program with Breakthrough Therapy Designation status based on the interim phase 3 data of PROTECTIVE-2, and the Company now completing the PROTECTIVE-2 trial with positive and consistent results to the interim, we are well on track to submit our NDA for CIN in Q1 2021. The improved CIN prevention benefit of the Plinabulin/G-CSF combination would have the potential for CIN prevention of the myelosuppressive effects of different chemotherapeutic agents in millions of patients with multiple tumor types.”

Ramon Mohanlal, M.D., Ph.D., BeyondSpring’s Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Research and Development concluded, “Plinabulin represents a new treatment paradigm for CIN prevention, an area wherein G-CSF has established efficacy, but with short-comings due to its delayed onset of action, next day dosing requirement, bone pain induction, and platelet count reduction. Plinabulin has a fast onset mechanism of action, without causing relevant bone pain or thrombocytopenia, and can be given on the same day as chemotherapy. Plinabulin added to G-CSF offers superior prevention of CIN, and has the potential to avoid life-threatening infections and to improve short-term and long-term survival. Plinabulin’s anticancer activity from its immune-enhancing mechanism of action, together with its CIN preventive effects, has the potential to become a universal add-on to anti-cancer treatments in general.”

The above data are available on BeyondSpring’s website in the Posters section.

About Plinabulin
Plinabulin, BeyondSpring’s lead asset, is a differentiated immune and stem cell modulator. Plinabulin is currently in late-stage clinical development to increase overall survival in cancer patients, as well as to alleviate chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN). The durable anticancer benefits of Plinabulin have been associated with its effect as a potent antigen-presenting cell (APC) inducer (through dendritic cell maturation) and T-cell activation (Chem and Cell Reports, 2019). Plinabulin’s CIN data highlight the ability to boost the number of hematopoietic stem / progenitor cells (HSPCs), or lineage-/cKit+/Sca1+ (LSK) cells in mice. Effects on HSPCs could explain the ability of Plinabulin not only to treat CIN, but also to reduce chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia and increase circulating CD34+ cells in patients.

About CIN
Patients receiving chemotherapy typically develop chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN), a severe side effect that increases the risk of infection with fever (also called febrile neutropenia, or “FN”), which necessitates ER/hospital visits. The updated National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines expanded the use of prophylactic G-CSFs, such as pegfilgrastim, to include not only high- risk patients (chemo FN rate>20%), but also intermediate-risk patients (FN rate between 10-20%) to avoid hospital/ER visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The revision of the NCCN guidelines effectively doubles the addressable market of patients who may benefit from treatment with plinabulin, if approved, to approximately 440,000 cancer patients in the U.S. annually. Plinabulin is designed to provide protection against the occurrence of CIN and its clinical consequences in week 1, for early onset of action after chemotherapy. CIN is the primary dose-limiting toxicity in cancer patients who receive chemotherapy treatment.

About BeyondSpring
BeyondSpring is a global, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative cancer therapies. BeyondSpring’s lead asset, plinabulin, a first-in-class agent as an immune and stem cell modulator, is in a Phase 3 global clinical trial as a direct anticancer agent in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and Phase 3 clinical programs in the prevention of CIN. The U.S. FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to plinabulin for concurrent administration with myelosuppressive chemotherapeutic regimens in patients with non-myeloid malignancies for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN). BeyondSpring has strong R&D capabilities with a robust pipeline in addition to plinabulin, including three immuno-oncology assets and a drug discovery platform using the protein degradation pathway, which is being developed in a subsidiary company, Seed Therapeutics, Inc. The Company also has a seasoned management team with many years of experience bringing drugs to the global market. BeyondSpring is headquartered in New York City.