AstraZeneca and Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) have begun trialling savolitinib in patients with a particular type of kidney cancer in a global, open-label, randomised Phase III registration study.

Savolitinib (AZD6094/HMPL-504) is a potential first-in-class selective inhibitor of c-MET (also known as mesenchymal epithelial transition factor) receptor tyrosine kinase, an enzyme which has been shown to function abnormally in many types of solid tumours.

It was discovered by Chi-Med and is being developed in partnership with AZ as a potent and highly selective oral inhibitor specifically designed to address issues observed in the clinic with other selective c-MET inhibitors, such as renal toxicity.

“The data building across our early development studies are encouraging, that savolitinib has the potential to be an important treatment option for c-MET driven cancers including kidney, lung and gastric cancers,” noted Susan Galbraith, SVP IMED Oncology, AZ.

SAVOIR is the first pivotal study ever conducted in c-MET-driven papillary renal cell carcinoma and the first molecularly selected trial in renal cell carcinoma.

Initiation of the trial has triggered a $5 million milestone payment to Chi-Med from AZ under the terms of the license and collaboration agreement signed between them in 2011.