Shares in cancer-fighting biotech Immutep (ASX:IMM) have risen to eight-month highs today, on the back of positive interim data from its phase II clinical trial in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Immutep is testing whether a combination of its drug eftilagimod alpha, also referred to as IMP321 or more affectionately “efti”, with Merck’s KEYTRUDA drug, can help patients with NSCLC in first and second line or second line head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

And early results of the trial are positive — there has been a 41 per cent response rate from the first stage of the first part of the trial, which compares favourably to standard care treatments.

The TACTI-002 phase II trial will treat up to 109 patients, and so far has treated 17, with 71 per cent of those patients continuing therapy.

The news boosted IMM shares by 9 per cent to 31c, their highest point since the end of March.

“The response rate compares favourably to other standard of care treatments available for NSCLC first-line patients, specifically single agent pembrolizumab or doublet chemotherapy,” Dr Frederic Triebel, Immutep’s chief scientific officer, said.

“As treatment continues, we are hopeful that patients with this highly aggressive tumour will continue to benefit from the combination therapy, even though some patients are just at an earlier stage of treatment.”

Stockhead has sought further comment from the company. Patient recruitment continues, and Immutep says “more mature data” will be released by March next year.

Read more:

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Health: Immutep bounces off decade-long lows thanks to cash from GSK

Japanese AI found a cancer vaccine and Immutep’s ‘efti’ drug has been chosen for the trials


In more ASX health news today:

One in, one out of the ASX200. Dow Jones has rejigged the Standard & Poor/ASX 200 index, removing aged care provider Aveo Group (ASX:AOG), and adding skin restoration biotech Avita Medical (ASX:AVH). “It is a testament to our solid growth trajectory following our US commercialisation,” Avita CEO Dr Mike Perry said.