Print Page      Close Window     

Press Releases

Athenex Announces Encouraging Results of the First Cohort of Phase I Clinical Trial of Oraxol and CYRAMZA® (Ramucirumab) Combination Treatment in Gastric Cancer

BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 22, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athenex, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATNX), a global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer and related conditions, today announced the completion of the first cohort of patients in its Phase 1b clinical trial of Oraxol (oral paclitaxel) plus CYRAMZA® (ramucirumab) in gastric cancer patients that failed previous chemotherapies. Oraxol, an innovative development in the treatment of cancer, is a novel oral formulation of paclitaxel, a very effective and commonly used chemotherapy treatment for many cancers, combined with HM30181A (a novel P-gp inhibitor).

A previously completed Phase II clinical trial of Oraxol in the second-line treatment of gastric cancer patients showed an encouraging overall median survival of 10.7 months. The expected overall survival for advanced gastric cancer patients who have failed previous chemotherapy and do not receive second-line therapy is approximately 4.0 months.

Ramucirumab, as a single agent or in combination with paclitaxel, is FDA-approved for the treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic, gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma with disease progression on or after prior fluoropyrimidine or platinum-containing chemotherapy. Ramucirumab is manufactured and marketed by Eli Lilly and Company. Athenex is evaluating the effect of Oraxol plus ramucirumab in gastric cancer in collaboration with Lilly. 

Of the six patients in the first cohort, the Oraxol and ramucirumab combination treatment was well tolerated. Grade 4 neutropenia occurred in one patient who fully recovered and there were no patient deaths. There was no neuropathy. Two patients had partial responses (tumor shrinkage of 34-42%) and three patients had stable diseases (with tumor shrinkage of 27% in one patient). Only one patient had progressive disease. Although early, these results are regarded as encouraging compared with previous IV paclitaxel and ramucirumab combination therapy Phase III clinical trial results. Athenex is advancing to the second cohort with Oraxol dose escalation.

Dr. Rudolf Kwan, Athenex’s Chief Medical Officer, commented, “We are heartened to see Oraxol and ramucirumab is well-tolerated with encouraging tumor response in our first cohort of patients with gastric cancer that failed previous chemotherapies in this Phase I clinical trial. We are proceeding to the second cohort of patients with an escalation dose of Oraxol to explore the possibility of even better clinical efficacy with a higher dose.”

Oraxol was initially discovered by Hanmi Pharmaceuticals and licensed to Athenex.

PharmaEssentia Corp., licensed the Taiwan rights to Oraxol from Athenex and is a partner in the development of Oraxol in Taiwan.

About Athenex, Inc.
Founded in 2003, Athenex, Inc. is a global clinical stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to becoming a leader in the discovery and development of next generation drugs for the treatment of cancer.  The Company’s current clinical pipeline is derived from two different platform technologies: Athenex’s Orascovery and Src Kinase Inhibition platforms. Part of the Orascovery platform is Athenex's lead proprietary product, Oraxol. Oraxol applies a unique approach based on the novel oral P-glycoprotein pump inhibitor molecule HM30181A, through which Athenex is able to administer paclitaxel orally, potentially allowing for improved safety and efficacy profile relative to IV paclitaxel. Oraxol is currently in a pivotal Phase III clinical trial for metastatic breast cancer and is also being evaluated in combination with Eli Lilly's Cyramza in a Phase I trial for gastric cancer. The Orascovery platform was developed by Hanmi Pharmaceuticals and licensed exclusively to Athenex for all major worldwide territories except Korea, which is retained by Hanmi. The Src Kinase Inhibition platform refers to novel small molecule compounds that have multiple mechanisms of action, including the inhibition of the activity of Src Kinase and the inhibition of tubulin polymerization during cell division.  Key clinical product candidates in this platform are KX-01 ointment for pre-cancerous lesions and KX-02 for glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM. In December 2017, we entered into a license agreement with Almirall, S.A. pursuant to which we granted to Almirall an exclusive license of KX-01 in the United States and substantially all European countries. In addition to its proprietary product portfolio, the Company also has a revenue generating API and Specialty Pharmaceuticals business. Athenex is headquartered in Buffalo, New York. Athenex has offices in Buffalo and Clarence, New York; Cranford, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Hong Kong; Taipei, Taiwan and multiple locations in Chongqing, China. For more information, please visit

Forward-Looking Statement Disclaimer/Safe Harbor Statement
Except for historical information, all of the statements, expectations, and assumptions contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. Actual results might differ materially from those explicit or implicit in the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include: the development stage of our primary clinical candidates and related risks involved in drug development, clinical trials, regulation, manufacturing and commercialization; need to raise additional capital; competition; intellectual property risks; risks relating to doing business in China; and the other risk factors set forth from time to time in our SEC filings, copies of which are available for free in the Investor Relations section of our website at or upon request from our Investor Relations Department. We assume no obligation and do not intend to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by law. CYRAMZA is a trademark owned by or licensed to Eli Lilly and Company, its subsidiaries, or affiliates.

Jim Polson
Tel: +1-716-427-2952
Athenex, Inc.

Athenex, Inc.