Exelixis’ thyroid cancer drug Cometriq could be given a new lease of life after showing strong promise in a trial involving patients with kidney cancer.

Top-line data from the Phase III METEOR trial show a statistically significant increase in progression-free survival (PFS) in patients who have experienced disease progression following treatment with a VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

A 42% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death in patients taking Cometriq (cabozantinib) compared to Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus) was also demonstrated.

While data on overall survival are immature at this point, a pre-specified interim analysis showed a trend favouring Cometriq, through statistical significant was not yet reached. Final analysis of OS data is expected next year.

“The magnitude of the improvement in PFS observed with cabozantinib compared to everolimus in the METEOR trial is an exciting and important development - it suggests an opportunity to improve care and outcomes for patients with metastatic RCC.”

Filings next year

On the back of the data, which the firm is planning on presenting at an upcoming medical conference, Exelixis is planning to complete regulatory filings early next year. 

The drug’s success will be particularly sweet for the firm given its failure as a treatment of prostate cancer that has spread to the bones, which led to a 70% reduction Exelixis’ workforce and slashed its share price.