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CVM: ASCO 2022: The Details Matter

By John Vandermosten, CFA



ASCO Abstract and Poster

In late April of this year, CEL-SCI Corporation (NYSE:CVM) emerged from its cocoon and announced that multiple abstracts had been accepted by American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for presentation during the organization’s 2022 meeting from June 3 to 7 in Chicago, IL. On June sixth CEL-SCI presented the data as described in a press release. During the event, the presentations were accompanied by a poster entitled: Leukocyte Interleukin Injection (LI) immunotherapy extends overall survival (OS) in treatment naïve low risk (LR) locally advanced primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head & neck: the IT-MATTERS Study.

The poster summarized the IT MATTERS Phase III clinical trial highlighting the key elements of the 923 subject study. It enrolled previously untreated advanced primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) patients having met inclusion/exclusion criteria as described in the study record (NCT01265849). Enrollees were then randomized 3:1:3 into one of the following treatment arms:

➢ Group 1 – LI Multikine (MK) + cyclophosphamide (CIZ) + standard of care (SOC); n=395

➢ Group 2 – LI (MK) + SOC; n=134

➢ Group 3 – SOC alone (Control); n=394

The primary goal of IT MATTERS was to assess OS superiority of LI (MK) + CIZ + SOC compared with SOC alone. Secondary objectives were to determine the rate of progression free survival (PFS) and local regional control (LRC) failure, quality of life, histopathological nature of cellular tumor infiltrate, and tumor response to Multikine.

The poster addressed elements of both safety and efficacy. Multikine features include relative ease of administration, localized treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs), self-resolving TEAEs, and absence of TEAEs after surgery. The five serious adverse events (SAEs) observed included edema, bleeding, osteoradionecrosis, atrial fibrillation and delirium, with two cases in edema and pyrexia that led to discontinuation. Furthermore, Multikine did not delay or interfere with surgery, did not contribute to any differences in the observation of adverse events between the study groups after treatment and led to no deaths or withdrawals. The poster examined two groups for OS: the intent to treat (ITT) group which has an N of 923 and the lower risk population with an N of 380. The ITT group did not distinguish itself relative to control; however, in the low risk population,1 which includes patients receiving radiotherapy only, there was a statistically significant OS benefit from using Multikine. The low risk group consisted of 380 subjects and demonstrated a 14.1% improvement in OS for the LI (MK) + CIZ + SOC group vs. the SOC group at 60 months.

The hazard ratio3 for the low risk treatment vs. control group was favorable with a value of 0.68 and a confidence interval of 0.48 and 0.95. Median survival for the low risk LI + CIZ + SOC group was 101.7 months vs. SOC at 55.2 months.

The presentation identified an incidence of approximately 890,000 head and neck cancer diagnoses per year with about 60,000 in the United States and 105,000 in Europe. 90% of SCCHN are squamous cell carcinomas, two-thirds are advanced primary and of this group, about 40% receive radiotherapy following surgery.

In summary, safety results did not differ significantly between treatment groups; however, there was a statistically significant survival benefit in the low risk treatment group. The ITT lower risk LI + CIZ + SOC arm achieved a 14.1% advantage for OS compared with SOC at five years. The 0.68 hazard ratio corresponds to a 47% improvement in median survival for the treatment group compared to SOC alone.

Summary of key efficacy results:

➢ 14.1% absolute overall survival benefit in the lower-risk treatment cohort;

➢ 101.7 months median overall survival in the lower risk Multikine treatment cohort vs. 55.2 months for standard of care;

➢ 16.0% early response rate for Multikine vs. 0% for standard of care;

➢ 17.6% death rate for early responders in the lower-risk treatment cohort vs. 42.7% for non-responders;

➢ Progression free survival presents a 0.76 hazard ratio;

➢ Overall survival presents a 0.68 hazard ratio.

Regulatory Submission

Now that the company has completed the IT-MATTERS trial and reported details of the trial outcome at a major conference, attention turns to the next steps in the regulatory process and submission of a Biologic License Application (BLA). Key drivers for valuation include the FDA’s willingness to accept the data available for a BLA and whether or not additional data and information is required prior to acceptance. The company has reached out to the FDA and contacted representatives from both the offices of oncology products and rare disease; however, it has not shared the agency’s response if indeed the meetings have yet taken place. We will update investors on these meetings, their outcomes and impact on valuation when details are made available.

Multikine Near Term Milestones

Submission of data of clinicaltrials.gov – May 2022

Presentation of abstract at ASCO – June 2022

➢ Development of clinical study report – 2022

➢ Request meeting with FDA to determine path forward – 2022

➢ Development of paper for publication in peer reviewed journal – 2022

➢ Presentation of data package to review with FDA – 2022

➢ Address FDA Comments – 2022

➢ Submission of BLA to FDA – 2022

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1. The high risk population is defined as those that were prescribed chemo-radiotherapy.

2. Source: CEL-SCI Poster: Leukocyte Interleukin Injection (LI) immunotherapy extends overall survival (OS) in treatment naïve low risk (LR) locally advanced primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head & neck: the IT-MATTERS Study.

3. Hazard ratio (HR) is a measure of an effect of an intervention on an outcome of interest over time. Hazard ratio is reported most commonly in time-to-event analysis or survival analysis. Calculated as: hazard (risk of death) in the intervention group / hazard in the control group.

4. Source: CEL-SCI Poster: Leukocyte Interleukin Injection (LI) immunotherapy extends overall survival (OS) in treatment naïve low risk (LR) locally advanced primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head & neck: the IT-MATTERS Study.