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Hemispherx announces start of Merck-supported ovarian cancer clinical drug trial

Last month, tests started for combination therapy targeting metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer
An ovarian cancer illustration
The study will combine drugs in targeting a type of ovarian cancer

Hemispherx Biopharma Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:HEB) announced Monday the start of a clinical trial supported by Merck & Co Inc (NYSE:MRK), combining treatments for a type of ovarian cancer.

The immune-pharma company said in a statement that the study will combine its Ampligen with Merck's Keytruda in targeting recurrent, platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer.

The trial will enrol as many as 45 participants and will be performed in the Pittsburgh at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, which is sponsoring the study. It is being conducted by Dr Robert Edwards, the director of the ovarian cancer program at UPMC Magee Womens Hospital.

READ: Hemispherx Biopharma's cancer drug Ampligen to be used in new oncology study

Ocala, Florida-based Hemispherx said that over the past year, it has produced 16,000 vials of Ampligen, including all of the supply needed for the clinical trial.

The study, according to Hemispherx, will look at how well Ampligen-based combination therapy works, when given with the anti-cancer chemotherapy drug Cisplatin and Keytruda in treating participants with recurrent ovarian cancer compared with historical controls. The company added that the trial will test the effectiveness of Ampligen in converting "cold" tumors into "hot" tumors, making the tumors more responsive to Keytruda.

"At Hemispherx we are determined to pursue a comprehensive R&D program focused on improved immune therapies for lethal malignancies such as recurrent ovarian cancer,” Hemispherx CEO Thomas K. Equels said. “We are deeply grateful for the attention and support we are getting from Merck and the world-class ovarian cancer team at UPMC in this important major clinical trial.”

Shares of Hemispherx slipped $0.01 to $0.23 in Friday’s New York trading.

Last month, the company said that the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, began testing the use of Ampligen and Keytruda for patients with metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer.

Contact Dennis Fitzgerald at [email protected]

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