The following article features coverage from the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2017 Congress in Madrid, Spain. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor’s conference coverage.

Adding eryaspase to second-line chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) regardless of asparagine synthetase (ASNS) expression among patients with pancreatic cancer, according to data presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2017 Congress in Spain.1

Asparagine, an essential amino acid for cancer survival, is hydrolyzed by L-asparaginase (L-ASP). Eryaspase is a drug formulation that encapsulates L-ASP within red blood cells and previously demonstrated efficacy and a favorable safety profile. ASNS expression is thought to determine sensitivity to asparaginase therapy.

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For this phase 2b study ( Identifier: NCT02195180), researchers randomly assigned 140 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer to receive eryaspase with standard of care chemotherapy (gemcitabine or combination fluorouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin [FOLFOX]) or chemotherapy alone. The primary outcome of the study was improvement of OS or PFS among patients with no or low ASNS (0/1) expression.

The 97 patients who were ASNS 0/1 demonstrated hazard ratios (HRs) of 0.62 for OS and 0.73 for PFS. Among the entire patient population, patients who received eryaspase had an OS of 26.1 weeks compared with 19 weeks for patients who only received chemotherapy (HR, 0.57; P  = .03).

The most frequently reported adverse events from treatment were asthenia, nausea, vomiting, and myelosuppression.

RELATED: Outcomes in Pancreatic Cancer Not Improved by Gemcitabine Plus Erlotinib

The researchers concluded that “the role of the ASNS expression will be further investigated. Further investigation of eryaspase in [pancreatic cancer] in a [phase 3] study is warranted.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2017 Congress by visiting the conference page.


  1. Hammel P, Bachet J, Portales F, et al. A Phase 2b of eryaspase in combination with gemcitabine or FOLFOX as second-line therapy in patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma (NCT02195180). Presented at: 2017 ESMO Congress; Madrid, Spain: September 8-12, 2017. Abstract 621PD.