CytoDyn Inc. (OTCQB: CYDY) (“CytoDyn” or the “Company”), a late-stage biotechnology company developing leronlimab, a CCR5 antagonist with the potential for multiple therapeutic indications, announced today its clinical trial with leronlimab in combination with carboplatin for the treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC) has advanced from Phase 1b to a Phase 2 trial. The positive advancement confirms leronlimab will be administered with a 700 mg dosage for patients in the mTNBC trial and Basket trial for 22 solid tumor cancers, as well as compassionate use, eIND and “right-to-try” patients.
Scott Kelly, M.D., CytoDyn’s Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of the Board, commented, “In April of this year, we shared our early findings with the medical and scientific communities at the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Drug Development Digital Summit and the continued progress of our drug candidate, leronlimab. We believe these safety findings are a tremendous step forward for CytoDyn’s oncology program for all tumors that have the potential to be treated with leronlimab. Safety, quality of life, and toxicity are often the greatest concerns of oncology patients and these findings give great hope for those in need.”
Nader Pourhassan, Ph.D., CytoDyn’s President and Chief Executive Officer, concluded, “This encouraging progress for the potential benefit for cancer patients continues to affirm our strategy of a multi-pathway approach to concurrently explore and develop many opportunities for leronlimab and our shareholders. Physicians and patients have shared their experiences with us supporting their belief that leronlimab has prolonged lives. Although these statements by patients and doctors are considered anecdotal data, it is very encouraging for us and it energizes the CytoDyn team to remain fully committed to advance our drug towards potential approval through our current two Phase 2 trials for cancer indications. Over the past seven years, we have been working with the FDA to advance our potential indications in an effort to provide our drug to patients as soon as the regulatory process allows. Navigating through this tough (and rightfully so) path towards approval (which typically takes 10-15 years) while managing many other issues, including raising capital, has been a challenge. It is an honor to be entrusted with this mission and we will redouble our efforts to achieve the best outcome possible for leronlimab.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted CytoDyn Fast Track designation to explore two potential indications using leronlimab to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and metastatic cancer. The first indication is combination therapy with HAART for HIV-infected patients, and the second is for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC). Leronlimab is an investigational humanized IgG4 mAb that binds to CCR5, a cellular receptor important in HIV infection, tumor metastases, and other diseases, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Leronlimab has been studied in 16 clinical trials involving more than 1,200 people and met its primary endpoints in a pivotal Phase 3 trial (leronlimab combined with HIV standard care in patients with multi-drug resistance to current available classes of HIV drugs).
Leronlimab, among various potential applications, is a viral-entry inhibitor in HIV/AIDS. It binds to CCR5, thus protecting healthy T cells from viral infection by blocking the predominant HIV (R5) subtype from entering those cells. Leronlimab does not work on other strains of HIV (for example X4), however, R5 is the most dominant strain of HIV. Five clinical trials have demonstrated leronlimab could significantly reduce or control HIV viral load in humans. The leronlimab antibody appears to be a powerful antiviral agent with fewer side effects and less frequent dosing requirements than currently used daily drug therapies. Cancer research has shown CCR5 may play a role in tumor invasion, metastases, and tumor microenvironment control (for example, through angiogenesis). Published studies have shown that blocking CCR5 can reduce tumor metastases in laboratory and animal models of aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Leronlimab reduced human breast cancer metastasis by more than 97% in a murine xenograft model. As a result, CytoDyn is conducting two clinical trials, one, a Phase 2 in mTNBC, which was granted Fast Track designation by the FDA in 2019, and a second, a Phase 2, basket trial which encompasses 22 different solid tumor cancers.
The CCR5 receptor plays a central role in modulating immune cell trafficking to sites of inflammation. After completing two clinical trials with COVID-19 patients (a Phase 2 and a Phase 3), CytoDyn initiated a Phase 2 investigative trial for post-acute sequelae of SARS COV-2 (PASC), also known as COVID-19 Long-Haulers. This trial will evaluate the effect of leronlimab on clinical symptoms and laboratory biomarkers to further understand the pathophysiology of PASC. It is currently estimated that between 10-30% of those infected with COVID-19 develop long-term sequelae. Common symptoms include fatigue, cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, and shortness of breath. If this trial is successful, CytoDyn plans to pursue clinical trials to evaluate leronlimab’s effect on immunological dysregulation in other post-viral syndromes, including myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
CytoDyn is also conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial for NASH to evaluate the effect of leronlimab on liver steatosis and fibrosis. Preclinical studies revealed a significant reduction in NAFLD and a reduction in liver fibrosis using leronlimab. There are currently no FDA approved treatments for NASH, which is a leading cause of liver transplant. About 30 to 40 percent of adults in the U.S. live with NAFLD, and 3 to 12 percent of adults in the U.S. live with NASH. There have been no strong safety signals identified in patients administered leronlimab in multiple disease spectrums, including patients with HIV, COVID-19, and oncology.
CytoDyn is a late-stage biotechnology company developing innovative treatments for multiple therapeutic indications using leronlimab, a novel humanized monoclonal antibody targeting the CCR5 receptor. CCR5 plays a critical role in the ability of HIV to enter and infect healthy T-cells and appears to be implicated in tumor metastasis and immune-mediated illnesses, such as NASH.
CytoDyn successfully completed a Phase 3 pivotal trial using leronlimab combined with standard antiretroviral therapies in HIV-infected patients who were heavily treatment-experienced individuals with limited treatment options. CytoDyn has been working diligently to resubmit its Biologics License Application (“BLA”) for this HIV combination therapy since receiving a Refusal to File in July 2020 and subsequently meeting with the FDA telephonically to address their written guidance concerning the filing. CytoDyn expects to begin to resubmit its BLA shortly after the first half of calendar 2021. CytoDyn also completed a Phase 2b/3 investigative trial with leronlimab used as a once-weekly monotherapy for HIV-infected patients. CytoDyn plans to initiate a registration-directed study of leronlimab monotherapy indication. If successful, it could support a label extension approval. Clinical results to date from two trials have shown that leronlimab can keep the viral load suppressed in a sub-population of R5 HIV patients who chose to switch from their daily pills regimen to once a week subcutaneous dose of leronlimab. Several patients on leronlimab’s Phase 2b extension arm have remained virally suppressed for almost 7 years and many patients in our Phase 2b/3 investigative trial are passing two and some four years of monotherapy with suppressed viral load.
CytoDyn is also conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial with leronlimab in mTNBC, a Phase 2 basket trial in solid tumor cancers (22 different cancer indications), Phase 2 investigative trial for post-acute sequelae of SARS COV-2, also known as COVID-19 long haulers, and a Phase 2 clinical trial for NASH. CytoDyn has already completed a Phase 2 and Phase 3 trial for mild-to-moderate and severe-to-critical COVID-19 patients, respectively, for which CytoDyn did not meet its primary or secondary endpoints except for the secondary endpoint in the critically ill subpopulation. More information is at www.cytodyn.com.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.