Eftozanermin alfa (ABBV-621) monotherapy in patients with previously treated solid tumors: findings of a phase 1, first-in-human study

Invest New Drugs. 2022 Aug;40(4):762-772. doi: 10.1007/s10637-022-01247-1. Epub 2022 Apr 25.


Eftozanermin alfa (eftoza), a second-generation tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor (TRAIL-R) agonist, induces apoptosis in tumor cells by activation of death receptors 4/5. This phase 1 dose-escalation/dose-optimization study evaluated the safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and preliminary activity of eftoza in patients with advanced solid tumors. Patients received eftoza 2.5-15 mg/kg intravenously on day 1 or day 1/day 8 every 21 days in the dose-escalation phase, and 1.25-7.5 mg/kg once-weekly (QW) in the dose-optimization phase. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were evaluated during the first treatment cycle to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D). Pharmacodynamic effects were evaluated in circulation and tumor tissue. A total of 105 patients were enrolled in the study (dose-escalation cohort, n = 57; dose-optimization cohort, n = 48 patients [n = 24, colorectal cancer (CRC); n = 24, pancreatic cancer (PaCA)]). In the dose-escalation cohort, seven patients experienced DLTs. MTD and RP2D were not determined. Most common treatment-related adverse events were increased alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase levels, nausea, and fatigue. The one treatment-related death occurred due to respiratory failure. In the dose-optimization cohort, three patients (CRC, n = 2; PaCA, n = 1) had a partial response. Target engagement with regard to receptor saturation, and downstream apoptotic pathway activation in circulation and tumor were observed. Eftoza had acceptable safety, evidence of pharmacodynamic effects, and preliminary anticancer activity. The 7.5-mg/kg QW regimen was selected for future studies on the basis of safety findings, pharmacodynamic effects, and biomarker modulations. (Trial registration number: NCT03082209 (registered: March 17, 2017)).

Keywords: Apoptosis; Dose-escalation; Dose-optimization; Phase 1; Solid tumor; TRAIL-R agonist.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Maximum Tolerated Dose
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03082209