Oxford Biomedica of the UK has started a Phase III trial of TroVax, its lead drug candidate, in patients with advanced or metastatic kidney cancer.

The multicentre trial, called TRIST, will enroll around 700 patients with an aggressive form of kidney cancer known as renal cell carcinoma, and will compared TroVax to placebo when added onto standard treatment, such as interleukin-2, interferon-alfa or Sutent (sunitinib), a recently-approved drug developed by Pfizer.

The primary endpoint for the trial is survival improvement and secondary endpoints include progression-free survival, tumour response rates and quality of life scores, said Oxford Biomedica in a statement.

TroVax is an immunotherapeutic designed to stimulate an immune response to the tumour antigen 5T4, which is broadly distributed throughout a wide range of solid tumours.

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer in the developed world, with more than 150,000 people newly diagnosed with the cancer each year. Median survival for patients with advanced or metastatic renal cell carcinoma is approximately 11 months, and there is a pressing need for new treatments that could improve on this.

The UK firm is already sponsoring a Phase II trial of TroVax in prostate cancer, and a trial in breast cancer is due to start in the coming months.