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Amgen Inventors Honored

Inventors of Amgen’s BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab) and IMLYGIC® (talimogene laherparepvec) Honored by the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation

The Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) Education Foundation honored the inventors of Amgen’s BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab) and IMLYGIC® (talimogene laherparepvec) with Inventor of the Year awards at the organization’s 43rd annual ceremony and gala in Washington, D.C. in December. Drs. Peter Kufer and Robert Coffin were recognized along with inventors of other immuno-oncology products from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech and Merck.  IPO described BLINCYTO and IMLYGIC as uniquely novel therapies that draw on the body’s immune system to help fight various forms of cancer. BLINCYTO is the first BiTE® (bispecific CD19-directed CD3 T cell engager) molecule to be approved and IMLYGIC is the first oncolytic viral therapy. Both new approaches show promise for patients seeking better treatments for their cancers.

IPO lauded Peter Kufer, executive director of BiTE Technology at Amgen, for the invention of BLINCYTO, along with Dr. Ralf Bargou, University of Wuerzburg, Germany. BLINCYTO is approved in the United States and Europe to treat Philadelphia chromosome-negative (Ph-) relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). ALL is a rare and rapidly progressing cancer of the blood and bone marrow.1,2 BLINCYTO directed at the CD19 target is the first molecule of the BiTE class that Amgen is studying to allow T cells to search and fight the tumor cells in patients suffering from different types of cancers.

“It has been extremely rewarding to contribute to the development of BLINCYTO and the BiTE Technology in order to bring this innovative medicine to patients. With BLINCYTO as proof of concept, we are investigating additional BiTE molecules to leverage the BiTE technology to help the body’s immune system target a wide variety of cancers,“ said Kufer. “There are so many talented people I want to thank who joined in on the long way from invention to drug approval and substantially contributed to the success of BLINCYTO and the BiTE Technology.  The best award for all of us is to see how BiTE molecules such as BLINCYTO help patients and save lives.”

Amgen Inventors

Pictured: Dr. Peter Kufer, executive director of BiTE Technology at Amgen, accepts the Inventor of the Year Award at the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation’s 9th Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2016 in Washington DC: 


IPO also recognized the work of Robert Coffin, current CEO of Replimune Ltd, and team for the invention of IMLYGIC, the first and only FDA-approved oncolytic viral therapy indicated for the local treatment of unresectable cutaneous, subcutaneous, and nodal lesions in patients with melanoma recurrent after initial surgery. IMLYGIC has not been shown to improve overall survival or have an effect on visceral metastases.  IMLYGIC is a genetically modified herpes simplex virus type 1 designed to replicate within tumors and produce an immunostimulatory protein called granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). IMLYGIC causes cell lysis, or death, which ruptures tumors, releasing tumor-derived antigens, which along with GM-CSF, may promote an anti-tumor immune response. 

“It’s a two-pronged approach to killing cancer: one is directly killing the tumor and the other is inducing a potent vaccine effect against the cancer that can treat tumors which have not themselves come into contact with the virus,” explained Coffin in an article published by IPO.

Amgen is committed to helping patients by delivering meaningful healthcare advances to those struggling with serious illnesses. The IPO Education Foundation’s recognition of Amgen inventors demonstrates our staff’s commitment to serving this mission.

BLINCYTO® Indication

BLINCYTO is indicated for the treatment of Philadelphia chromosome-negative relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

This indication is approved under accelerated approval. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification of clinical benefit in subsequent trials

BLINCYTO® Important Safety Information

WARNING: CYTOKINE RELEASE SYNDROME and NEUROLOGICAL TOXICITIES

  • Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), which may be life-threatening or fatal, occurred in patients receiving BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab). Interrupt or discontinue BLINCYTO® as recommended.
  • Neurological toxicities, which may be severe, life-threatening or fatal, occurred in patients receiving BLINCYTO®. Interrupt or discontinue BLINCYTO® as recommended.

Contraindications

BLINCYTO® is contraindicated in patients with a known hypersensitivity to blinatumomab or to any component of the product formulation.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS): CRS, which may be life-threatening or fatal, occurred in patients receiving BLINCYTO®. Infusion reactions have occurred and may be clinically indistinguishable from manifestations of CRS. Closely monitor patients for signs and symptoms of serious events such as pyrexia, headache, nausea, asthenia, hypotension, increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT), increased aspartate aminotransferase (AST), increased total bilirubin (TBILI), disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), capillary leak syndrome (CLS), and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis/macrophage activation syndrome (HLH/MAS). Interrupt or discontinue BLINCYTO® as outlined in the Prescribing Information (PI).
  • Neurological Toxicities: Approximately 64% of patients receiving BLINCYTO® in clinical trials experienced neurological toxicities. The median time to onset of any neurological toxicity was 4 days. The most common (≥ 10%) manifestations of neurological toxicity were headache, tremor, dizziness, and altered state of consciousness. Severe, life-threatening, or fatal neurological toxicities occurred in approximately 17% of patients, including encephalopathy, convulsions, speech disorders, disturbances in consciousness, confusion and disorientation, and coordination and balance disorders. The neurological toxicity profile varied by age group. Monitor patients for signs or symptoms and interrupt or discontinue BLINCYTO® as outlined in the PI.
  • Infections: Approximately 25% of patients receiving BLINCYTO® experienced serious infections, some of which were life-threatening or fatal. Administer prophylactic antibiotics and employ surveillance testing as appropriate during treatment. Monitor patients for signs or symptoms of infection and treat appropriately, including interruption or discontinuation of BLINCYTO® as needed.
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS): TLS, which may be life-threatening or fatal, has been observed. Preventive measures, including pretreatment nontoxic cytoreduction and on-treatment hydration, should be used during BLINCYTO® treatment. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of TLS and interrupt or discontinue BLINCYTO® as needed to manage these events.
  • Neutropenia and Febrile Neutropenia, including life-threatening cases, have been observed. Monitor appropriate laboratory parameters during BLINCYTO® infusion and interrupt BLINCYTO® if prolonged neutropenia occurs.
  • Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines: Due to the possibility of neurological events, including seizures, patients receiving BLINCYTO® are at risk for loss of consciousness, and should be advised against driving and engaging in hazardous occupations or activities such as operating heavy or potentially dangerous machinery while BLINCYTO® is being administered.
  • Elevated Liver Enzymes: Transient elevations in liver enzymes have been associated with BLINCYTO® treatment with a median time to onset of 3 days. In patients receiving BLINCYTO®, although the majority of these events were observed in the setting of CRS, some cases of elevated liver enzymes were observed outside the setting of CRS, with a median time to onset of 15 days. Grade 3 or greater elevations in liver enzymes occurred in 6% of patients outside the setting of CRS and resulted in treatment discontinuation in less than 1% of patients. Monitor ALT, AST, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), and TBILI prior to the start of and during BLINCYTO® treatment. BLINCYTO® treatment should be interrupted if transaminases rise to > 5 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) or if TBILI rises to > 3 times ULN.
  • Pancreatitis: Fatal pancreatitis has been reported in patients receiving BLINCYTO® in combination with dexamethasone in clinical trials and the post-marketing setting. Evaluate patients who develop signs and symptoms of pancreatitis and interrupt or discontinue BLINCYTO® and dexamethasone as needed.
  • Leukoencephalopathy: Although the clinical significance is unknown, cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) changes showing leukoencephalopathy have been observed in patients receiving BLINCYTO®, especially in patients previously treated with cranial irradiation and antileukemic chemotherapy.
  • Preparation and administration errors have occurred with BLINCYTO® treatment. Follow instructions for preparation (including admixing) and administration in the PI strictly to minimize medication errors (including underdose and overdose).
  • Immunization: Vaccination with live virus vaccines is not recommended for at least 2 weeks prior to the start of BLINCYTO® treatment, during treatment, and until immune recovery following last cycle of BLINCYTO®.

Adverse Reactions

  • The most common adverse reactions (≥ 20%) in the safety population studied in clinical trials were pyrexia (66%), headache (34%), nausea (27%), edema (26%), hypokalemia (26%), anemia (25%), febrile neutropenia (24%), neutropenia (22%), thrombocytopenia (20%), and abdominal pain (20%). The safety population included 225 patients weighing 45 kg or more and 57 patients weighing less than 45 kg. For some adverse reactions, there were differences in the incidence rates by age subgroup.
  • In patients weighing greater than or equal to 45 kg, serious adverse reactions were reported in 61% of patients. The most common serious adverse reactions (≥ 2%) included febrile neutropenia (9%), pyrexia (6%), sepsis (5%), pneumonia (5%), device-related infection (4%), neutropenia (3%), tremor (3%), overdose (3%), encephalopathy (3%), infection (2%), confusion (3%) and headache (2%).
  • In patients weighing less than 45 kg, serious adverse reactions were reported in 51% of patients. The most common serious adverse reactions (≥ 2%) included pyrexia (12%), febrile neutropenia (9%), cytokine release syndrome (4%), convulsion (4%), device-related infection (4%), hypoxia (4%), sepsis (4%), and overdose (4%).

Dosage and Administration Guidelines

  • BLINCYTO® is administered as a continuous intravenous infusion at a constant flow rate using an infusion pump which should be programmable, lockable, non-elastomeric, and have an alarm.
  • It is very important that the instructions for preparation (including admixing) and administration provided in the full Prescribing Information are strictly followed to minimize medication errors (including underdose and overdose).

Please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS and Medication Guide, for BLINCYTO®.

IMLYGIC® Indication and Limitations of Use

IMLYGIC® (talimogene laherparepvec) is a genetically modified oncolytic viral therapy indicated for the local treatment of unresectable cutaneous, subcutaneous, and nodal lesions in patients with melanoma recurrent after initial surgery.

Limitations of use: IMLYGIC® has not been shown to improve overall survival or have an effect on visceral metastases.

IMLYGIC® Important Safety Information

Contraindications

  • Do not administer IMLYGIC® to immunocompromised patients, including those with a history of primary or acquired immunodeficient states, leukemia, lymphoma, AIDS or other clinical manifestations of infection with human immunodeficiency viruses, and those on immunosuppressive therapy, due to the risk of life-threatening disseminated herpetic infection.
  • Do not administer IMLYGIC® to pregnant patients.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Accidental exposure to IMLYGIC® may lead to transmission of IMLYGIC® and herpetic infection, including during preparation and administration. Health care providers, close contacts, pregnant women, and newborns should avoid direct contact with injected lesions, dressings, or body fluids of treated patients. The affected area in exposed individuals should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water and/or a disinfectant.
  • Caregivers should wear protective gloves when assisting patients in applying or changing occlusive dressings and observe safety precautions for disposal of used dressings, gloves, and cleaning materials. Exposed individuals should clean the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and/or a disinfectant.
  • To prevent possible inadvertent transfer of IMLYGIC® to other areas of the body, patients should be advised to avoid touching or scratching injection sites or occlusive dressings.
  • Herpetic infections: Herpetic infections (including cold sores and herpetic keratitis) have been reported in IMLYGIC®-treated patients. Disseminated herpetic infection may also occur in immunocompromised patients. Patients who develop suspicious herpes-like lesions should follow standard hygienic practices to prevent viral transmission.
  • Patients or close contacts with suspected signs or symptoms of a herpetic infection should contact their health care provider to evaluate the lesions. Suspected herpetic lesions should be reported to Amgen at 1-855-IMLYGIC (1-855-465-9442). Patients or close contacts have the option of follow-up testing for further characterization of the infection.
  • IMLYGIC® is sensitive to acyclovir. Acyclovir or other antiviral agents may interfere with the effectiveness of IMLYGIC®. Consider the risks and benefits of IMLYGIC® treatment before administering antiviral agents to manage herpetic infection.
  • Injection Site Complications: Necrosis or ulceration of tumor tissue may occur during IMLYGIC® treatment. Cellulitis and systemic bacterial infection have been reported in clinical studies. Careful wound care and infection precautions are recommended, particularly if tissue necrosis results in open wounds.
  • Impaired healing at the injection site has been reported. IMLYGIC® may increase the risk of impaired healing in patients with underlying risk factors (eg, previous radiation at the injection site or lesions in poorly vascularized areas). If there is persistent infection or delayed healing of the injection site, consider the risks and benefits of continuing treatment.
  • Immune-Mediated events including glomerulonephritis, vasculitis, pneumonitis, worsening psoriasis, and vitiligo have been reported in patients treated with IMLYGIC®. Consider the risks and benefits of IMLYGIC® before initiating treatment in patients who have underlying autoimmune disease or before continuing treatment in patients who develop immune-mediated events.
  • Plasmacytoma at Injection Site: Plasmacytoma in proximity to the injection site has been reported in a patient with smoldering multiple myeloma after IMLYGIC® administration in a clinical study. Consider the risks and benefits of IMLYGIC® in patients with multiple myeloma or in whom plasmacytoma develops during treatment.

Adverse Reactions

  • The most commonly reported adverse drug reactions (≥ 25%) in IMLYGIC®-treated patients were fatigue, chills, pyrexia, nausea, influenza-like illness, and injection site pain. Pyrexia, chills, and influenza-like illness can occur at any time during IMLYGIC® treatment, but were more frequent during the first 3 months of treatment.
  • The most common Grade 3 or higher adverse reaction was cellulitis.


Please see full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for IMLYGIC®


References

1. Cancer Research UK. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia risks and causes. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/all/about/acute-lymphoblastic-leukaemia-risks-and-causes. Accessed 21 Jan 2016.

2. Mayo Clinic. Acute lymphocytic leukemia. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-lymphocytic-leukemia/basics/definition/con-20042915. Accessed 21 Jan 2016.