Editors note: The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2019 Congress was held on 27 Sept to 01 October in Barcelona， many researches on biosimilar were presented in the conference， and the update research of HLX01 drew attention of public. HLX01(Brand name Hanlikang) is a recently approved biosimilar of Rituximab injection by NMPA. As the first biosimilar drug approved in China， HLX01 undoubtedly starts the show of China’s biosimilar drugs. We invited Prof. Yuankai Shi from Tumor Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Prof. Jude Fitzgibbon from Barts Cancer Institute to discuss therapeutic efficacy of HLX01 and the management of quality control in biosimilar drug development.
As the first monoclonal antibody drug applied， Rituximab has profound influence on lymphoma treatment.
Prof. Yuankai Shi: Oncotherapy has entered the decade of target therapy and immunotherapy. As the first target specific monoclonal antibody drug worldwide， Rituximab， the CD20-targeted antibody， has been widely known as the represent drug of molecular targeted therapy. After being approved by FDA， Rituximab has shown ideal therapeutic effect in lymphoma in more than 20 years. As to CD20+ lymphoma like follicular lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treatment， the combine of anti-CD20 antibody and chemotherapy， known as immunochemotherapy， has significantly improved the survival of patients and become a standard regimen. It not only benefits the patients， also alters the classical therapeutic concept. Therefore， Rituximab means a lot to the development of molecular targeted therapy.
Under strict developed regulation， anti-CD20 biosimilar HLX01 showed favorable efficacy in Phase III clinical study of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Prof. Yuankai Shi: HLX01 is a biosimilar of Rituximab developed by Shanghai Henlius Biotech. During clinical trail from Phase I to Phase III， development of HLX01 is stictly regulated by “Guideline for R&D and evaluation of biosimilar drug (trail version)”of NMPA. Phase III trail of HLX01 is a double-blind， multi-centered prospective study comparing with R-CHOP on diffuse large B-cell lymphoma， and the primary end point is remission rate after 6 cycles of therapy. The result showed H-CHOP is highly similar to R-CHOP on ORR， which reached the primary end point， meanwhile the safety and phamacokenetic character is also similar. H-CHOP is also not statistically different to R-CHOP in degree nor occurance rate of adverse effect. So HLX01 got market authorization from NMPA on February 22 this year， and became the first biosimilar in China. For diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients in China， apparently they got a new optimal choice of therapy.
Emerging and clinical application of biosimilar increase the accessibility of new therapy， also reveal the requirement of quality control in biosimilar drug production.
Professor Jude Fitzgibbon: First of all， I’d like to say the dilemma and research work in lymphoma， like we can see that the treatment of lymphoma has been revoluntionized by the introduction of anti-CD20 therapies， specifically in the areas of diffuse large B cell lymphoma and then follicular lymphoma. And we do think in the last 15 or so years， the survival has changed significantly based on the introduction of rituximab and now the new anti-CD20 therapy called HLX 01 and specifically that’s appropriate for the treatment of diffuse large B cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. Clearly introduction of biosimilar drug is important and as well clearly I think it’s essential that this one is tested with the same degree of rigor. And that’s exeactly what’s happening at the present time. So it provides us an opportunity when drugs like Rituximab come off patent where new buy similars can take over and be utilized with the same efficacy and success that rituximab has had in the past.
Prof. Yuankai Shi: Efficacy and safety of biosimilar drugs are always concerned by researchers and clinicians， so the development of new biosimilars has to be always strictly regulated by related guidelines， and associated technical standards also have to be fully met.
we are on the stage at the present time where immuno-therapy with anti-CD20 therapy still be the standard carethat would actually be more really at the backbone of therapies we could utilize at the present time.
Professor Jude Fitzgibbon: So I think the use of next-generation sequencing has provide us with a huge opportunity to identity specific gene mutations and specific changes of gene expressions and special understand of personality of both diffuse large B cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. I think going forward that immuno-thrapies have been very efficacious and soli concerto . I think the targeting of human micro-environment is an open question of diffuse large B cell lymphomaand follicular lymphoma. And clearly I think their efficacy is most likely to have an effect in combination with our therapies. Specifically I think there is a notion at the present time that epigenetic mutations which are very common theme in lymphomas. They might provide an opportunity to actually weaken the immunity that tumor cell has its cloak of an invincibility that tumor cell might have to rely for and this therapy could actually work better. Clearly I think we are on the stage at the present time where immuno-therapy with anti-CD20 therapy still be the standard care that would actually be more really at the backbone of therapies we could utilize at the present time.