Novartis (NYSE:NVS) has announced that chemotherapy plus tislelizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against PD-1, improved overall survival as a first-line treatment for adult patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in the Phase 3 RATIONALE 306 study.
The survival benefits were seen in patients regardless of PD-L1 status.
The benefits were consistent across patient subgroups in the study.
In the study, the combination of tislelizumab and chemotherapy resulted in median overall survival of 17.2 months compared to 10.6 months in patients receiving chemotherapy plus placebo.
Investigators concluded that the combination of chemotherapy and tislelizumab cut the risk of death by 34%.
Tislelizumab was first developed by BeiGene. Novartis paid $650 million for rights to the drug. The company also stands to pay up to $1.55 billion in potential milestone payments.