Background: Galunisertib is the first-in-class, first-in-human, oral small-molecule type I transforming growth factor-beta receptor (ALK5) serine/threonine kinase inhibitor to enter clinical development. The effect of galunisertib vs. placebo in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer was determined.
Methods: This was a two-part, multinational study: phase 1b was a non-randomised, open-label, multicentre, and dose-escalation study; phase 2 was a randomised, placebo- and Bayesian-augmented controlled, double-blind study in patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma considered candidates for first-line chemotherapy with gemcitabine. Patients were randomised 2:1 to galunisertib-gemcitabine (N = 104) or placebo-gemcitabine (N = 52). Gemcitabine dose was 1000 mg/m2 QW. Primary endpoints for phases 1b and 2, respectively, were phase 2 dose and overall survival. Secondary objectives included tolerability and biomarkers.
Results: Dose-escalation suggested a 300-mg/day dose. Primary objective was met: median survival times were 8.9 and 7.1 months for galunisertib and placebo, respectively (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.79 [95% credible interval: 0.59-1.09] and posterior probability HR < 1 = 0.93). Lower baseline biomarkers macrophage inflammatory protein-1-alpha and interferon-gamma-induced protein 10 were associated with galunisertib benefit.
Conclusions: Galunisertib-gemcitabine combination improved overall survival vs. gemcitabine in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer, with minimal added toxicity. Future exploration of galunisertib in pancreatic cancer is ongoing in combination with durvalumab.