Two Sydney biotech companies have announced today they have finished recruitment into Phase 2 studies investigating their potential cancer treatments.

Imugene (ASX:IMU) said this morning it would cap its study of its HER-Vaxx cancer vaccine candidate in patients with gastric cancer at 36 patients, rather than the 68 patients originally planned.

An independent data monitoring committee overseeing the clinical trial recommended stopping the study after the preliminary data came out “strongly in favour of a HER-Vaxx survival effect,” Imugene said.

The committee “provided guidance that is it scientifically and ethically appropriate to reduce the overall number of patients required to complete the study given the strong signal observed in the data,” Imugene said.

“This is an important achievement for Imugene,” managing director and CEO Leslie Chong said, “and the many medical professionals seeking treatments for patients with advanced gastric cancer who often have very few medical options.”

The HER-Vaxx immunotherapy is designed to mount an immune response against a protein known as HER2/neu, which is involved in the growth of certain cancers including gastric, breast, ovarian, lung and pancreactic.

Imugene is hoping the vaccine can replace the approved blockbuster cancer drug Herceptin, which has a similar method of action.

Immutep also making progress

Meanwhile, Immutep (ASX:IMM) said it had dosed the last patient for Part C of a Phase 2 trial testing its lead drug candidate “efti” in conjunction with Merck’s Keytruda to treat head and neck cancer.

The company has also begun recruiting another 74 lung cancer patients, in addition to the 36 already enrolled in the study, following “very robust” early data from the study.

Forty of the 110 patients now expected to be enrolled in the expanded study have now been recruited, Immutep said.

The company expects to report more data from the study in the first half of this year.