Gilead Sciences’ simtuzumab is the latest compound to fail as a treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The company has announced results from a Phase II study evaluating simtuzumab, an inhibitor of the lysyl oxidase-like-2 enzyme, in combination with current standard of care gemcitabine (Eli Lilly's Gemzar). The data show that the addition of simtuzumab (200 mg or 700 mg) to gemcitabine did not significantly increase progression-free survival  compared to placebo plus gemcitabine.

Median PFS for the simtuzumab 200 mg, simtuzumab 700 mg and placebo groups was 3.5 months, 3.7 months and 3.7 months, respectively. There was no difference in adverse events between patients taking simtuzumab versus placebo, Gilead said, noting that detailed results will be presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Madrid next week.

Although the failure in difficult-to-treat advanced pancreatic cancer patients is a blow, Gilead chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said “we continue to explore simtuzumab in other areas of unmet medical need, with ongoing clinical trials in colorectal cancer, myelofibrosis and serious fibrotic lung and liver diseases”.

Other agents in Gilead’s oncology pipeline, including momelotinib and GS-5745, are currently being evaluated for pancreatic cancer.