Fox Chase Researcher Receives Funding From NCCN to Evaluate Drug in Gastric and Esophageal Cancer Patients

Dr. Vijayvergia, assistant chief of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at Fox Chase
Dr. Namrata “Neena” Vijayvergia

PHILADELPHIA (August 12, 2021) – Namrata “Neena” Vijayvergia, MD, assistant chief of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has received funding from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to evaluate neratinib, also known by its brand name Nerlynx, in combination with another drug for the treatment of refractory gastric and esophageal cancer.

“The goal is to identify if the combination is safe and also look at efficacy as a secondary outcome,” said Vijayvergia. “We hope it will open up more options for treating this subgroup of cancer patients.”

Neratinib helps delay the spread of cancer cells through blocking abnormal proteins that tells cancer cells to multiply. It is currently approved for treating patients with selected HER2-positive breast cancers.

Vijayvergia’s project will be a multicenter phase 1 trial of neratinib and fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan, an antibody drug conjugate that is also used for treatment of unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, and gastroesophageal junction and gastric cancer after previous treatment targeting HER2.

Her project proposal was one of three funded after peer review by a scientific committee made up of medical oncologists from NCCN member institutions. The deciding factors for funding included scientific merit, existing data, feasibility, and the types of studies needed to further evaluate neratinib. The NCCN Oncology Research Program will oversee the two-year studies, which will begin later this year.

“These projects will add to our understanding of the optimal ways to target these pathways and further the management of these diseases, which include rare conditions,” said Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, FACP, senior vice president and chief scientific officer at NCCN.

Puma Biotechnology Inc., the biopharmaceutical company that makes neratinib, is providing $1.4 million in overall funding for the research and is supplying the drug for the studies as well.

“We are committed to exploring the efficacy of neratinib in a diverse range of tumor types for the benefit of affected patient populations, and we look forward to the insights provided by these studies,” said Alan H. Auerbach, chief executive officer and president of Puma Biotechnology.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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