ALK inhibitor crizotinib was approved last August under Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) marketing name Xalkori for the treatment of some forms of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This morning, Synta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SNTA) announced that it treated its first NSCLC patients in clinical trials with its ganetespib Hsp90 inhibitor, one arm of which is testing the drug as a monotherapy, the other in combination with crizotinib. The CHIARA trial pits ganetespib, which the company calls a molecular chaperone, alone against ALK positive forms of NSCLC. Treatment with ganetespib led to the degradation of the ALK protein in preclinical models and was effective in killing ALK+ cell lines that were resistant to treatment with crizotinib. Used in combination, preclinical models showed even high efficacy than either one alone, and the company has high hopes for the Phase II trial. They also expect results from their separate Phase 2b/3 GALAXY trial for the same indication.
The market responded negatively, however, to Synta’s Q2 report, which also came out this morning, which showed continued losses from the development-stage company. After a stock offering in July of $25.8MM worth of shares to directors, SNTA believes it has enough cash on hand to last into the second half of 2013.