Clovis Oncology and Roche’s Genentech have entered into a clinical trials pact to investigate whether two of their cancer therapies work better in tandem than alone.

The companies have drawn up plans to test a novel combination of Genentech's investigational PDL1 inhibitor atezolizumab (MPDL3280A) and Clovis’ rociletinib in advanced EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The Phase Ib/II trial, which is sponsored by Clovis, is scheduled to start before the end of the year and is designed to assess the safety and activity of the combination in patients.

"In particular, we are very enthusiastic to explore the potential of this combination in both newly-diagnosed patients as well as those previously treated with TKI therapy,” noted Patrick Mahaffy, Clovis’ president and chief executive.

Rociletinib has already been filed on both sides of the Atlantic for patients with mutant EGFR NSCLC who have been previously treated with an EGFR-targeted therapy, but Clovis will be hoping that the drug offers a benefit when combined with checkpoint inhibitors such as atezolizumab, which would significantly expand its reach.