ENHERTU® Granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation in the U.S. for HER2 Mutant Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

  • Designation based on phase 2 DESTINY-Lung01
  • This is the third Breakthrough Therapy Designation for ENHERTU, highlighting its potential to treat multiple HER2 cancers

TOKYO, Japan, BASKING RIDGE, NJ, USA and MUNICH, Germany I May 18, 2020 I Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited (hereafter, Daiichi Sankyo) and AstraZeneca’s ENHERTU® (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) in the U.S. for the treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have a HER2 mutation and with disease progression on or after platinum-based therapy. 

NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, and prognosis is particularly poor for patients with metastatic disease as only about six to 10 percent will be alive five years after diagnosis.[1],[2] Approximately two to four percent of patients with NSCLC have a HER2 mutation.[3],[4]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) BTD is designed to accelerate the development and regulatory review of potential new medicines that are intended to treat a serious condition and address a significant unmet medical need. The new medicine needs to have shown encouraging preliminary clinical results that demonstrate substantial improvement on a clinically significant endpoint over available medicines.

“We are encouraged by the promising evidence of activity seen with ENHERTU in patients with advanced lung cancer and a HER2 mutation,” said Gilles Gallant, BPharm, PhD, FOPQ, Senior Vice President, Global Head, Oncology Development, Oncology R&D, Daiichi Sankyo. “We look forward to working closely with the FDA on the potential for ENHERTU to become the first HER2 directed therapy approved for non-small cell lung cancer.”

“Today’s news is very welcome as we continue to evaluate the potential of ENHERTU to help patients with this devastating type of lung cancer,” said José Baselga, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca. “Targeted treatments and immunotherapies are demonstrating tremendous advancements, but there remains an unmet medical need for patients with HER2 mutations who are not benefiting from such therapies or for those whose cancer continues to progress.”

The FDA granted BTD based on data from ongoing phase 2 DESTINY-Lung01 trial currently assessing ENHERTU, a HER2 directed antibody drug conjugate (ADC), in patients with HER2 mutant metastatic NSCLC and data from the phase 1 trial published in Cancer Discovery. An interim analysis from DESTINY-Lung01 will be presented at the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO20) Virtual Scientific Program.

The overall safety and tolerability profile of ENHERTU in the ongoing DESTINY-Lung01 trial is consistent with that seen in the phase 1 trial. The most common adverse events to date (n=42) are gastrointestinal and hematological including nausea, alopecia, anemia, decreased appetite and decreased neutrophil count. There have been five cases of drug-related interstitial lung disease (ILD) and pneumonitis in patients with HER2 mutant NSCLC, all of which were grade 2. There have been no ILD-related deaths.

This is the third BTD granted for ENHERTU in the U.S., and the fourth expedited regulatory designation received globally. Last week, ENHERTU received BTD in patients with HER2 positive unresectable gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma who have received two or more prior regimens including trastuzumab.

ENHERTU recently received accelerated approval in the U.S. and approval in Japan under the conditional early approval system for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer who have received two or more prior anti-HER2 based regimens.

About HER2

HER2 is a tyrosine kinase receptor growth-promoting protein expressed on the surface of many types of tumors including gastric, breast and lung cancers. In some tumors, HER2 overexpression is associated with a specific HER2 gene alteration known as amplification and is often associated with aggressive disease and poorer prognosis.[5]

Other HER2 gene alterations (called HER2 mutations) have been identified in NSCLC, specifically adenocarcinomas, as distinct molecular targets.4,[6]Approximately two to four percent of patients with NSCLC have HER2 mutations, which have been independently associated with cancer cell growth and poor prognosis.3,4

About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) 
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women and accounts for about one-fifth of all cancer deaths.[7] In the U.S., it is estimated that 228,820 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2020 and more than 135,000 people will die from the disease.[8]

NSCLC accounts for approximately 80 to 85 percent of all lung cancers.[9] For patients with metastatic disease, prognosis is particularly poor, as only six to 10 percent will be alive five years after diagnosis.1 The introduction of targeted therapies and checkpoint inhibitors in recent years has improved the treatment landscape for patients with advanced NSCLC; however, new approaches are needed for those who are not eligible for available treatments, or whose cancer continues to progress.[10] Currently, no medicine is specifically approved for patients with HER2 mutant NSCLC.

About DESTINY-Lung01

DESTINY-Lung01 is a global, phase 2, open-label, multicenter, two-cohort study evaluating the safety and efficacy of ENHERTU in 170 patients with HER2 mutant (n=90) or HER2 overexpressing (defined as IHC 3+ or IHC 2+, n=80) unresectable and metastatic non-squamous NSCLC whose cancer has progressed after one or more systemic therapies including chemotherapy, molecular targeted therapy or immunotherapy. The primary endpoint is objective response rate (ORR). Key secondary endpoints include duration of response, disease control rate, progression free survival, and overall survival.


ENHERTU (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki in the U.S. only; trastuzumab deruxtecan outside the U.S.) is a HER2 directed antibody drug conjugate (ADC) and is the lead ADC in the oncology portfolio of Daiichi Sankyo and the most advanced program in AstraZeneca’s ADC Scientific platform.

ADCs are targeted cancer medicines that deliver cytotoxic chemotherapy (“payload”) to cancer cells via a linker attached to a monoclonal antibody that binds to a specific target expressed on cancer cells. Designed using Daiichi Sankyo’s proprietary DXd ADC technology, ENHERTU is comprised of a HER2 monoclonal antibody attached to a novel topoisomerase I inhibitor payload by a tetrapeptide-based linker.

ENHERTU has been approved for use only in the U.S. and Japan. ENHERTU has not been approved in the EU, or countries outside of the U.S. and Japan for any indication. It is an investigational agent globally for various indications. Safety and effectiveness have not been established for the subject proposed use.

About the ENHERTU Clinical Development Program

A comprehensive development program for ENHERTU is underway globally with six pivotal trials evaluating the efficacy and safety of ENHERTU monotherapy across multiple HER2 cancers including breast, gastric and lung cancers. Trials in combination with other anticancer treatments, such as immunotherapy, also are underway.

About the Collaboration between Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca

In March 2019, Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca entered into a global collaboration to jointly develop and commercialize ENHERTU worldwide, except in Japan where Daiichi Sankyo maintains exclusive rights. Daiichi Sankyo is solely responsible for the manufacturing and supply.

U.S. FDA-Approved Indication for ENHERTU®

ENHERTU is a HER2-directed antibody and topoisomerase inhibitor conjugate indicated for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who have received two or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial.

Please see accompanying full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNING, and Medication Guide.

About Daiichi Sankyo

Daiichi Sankyo Group is dedicated to the creation and supply of innovative pharmaceutical therapies to improve standards of care and address diversified, unmet medical needs of people globally by leveraging our world-class science and technology. With more than 100 years of scientific expertise and a presence in more than 20 countries, Daiichi Sankyo and its 15,000 employees around the world draw upon a rich legacy of innovation and a robust pipeline of promising new medicines to help people. In addition to a strong portfolio of medicines for cardiovascular diseases, under the Group’s 2025 Vision to become a “Global Pharma Innovator with Competitive Advantage in Oncology.” Daiichi Sankyo is primarily focused on providing novel therapies in oncology, as well as other research areas centered around rare diseases and immune disorders. For more information, please visit: www.daiichisankyo.com


[1] Goldstraw P, et al. J Thorac Oncol. 2016; 11(1):39–51.

[2] American Cancer Society. Lung Cancer. Early Detection, Diagnosis and Staging. January 2020.

[3] Campbell JD, et al. Nat Genet. 2016 Jun;48(6):607-16.

[4] Li BT, et al. J Thorac Oncol. 11(3):414-9.

[5] Iqbal N, et al. Mol Biol Int. 2014;2014:852748.

[6] Pillai RN, et al. Cancer. 2017 Nov 1;123(21);4099-4105.

[7] Bray, F, et al. CA: Cancer J. Clin 2018;68:394-424.

[8] American Cancer Society. About Lung Cancer. Key Statistics for Lung Cancer. January 2020.

[9] American Cancer Society. About Lung Cancer. Types of Lung Cancer. January 2020.

[10] Economopoulou P, et al. Ann Transl Med 2018 Apr; 6(8):138.

SOURCE: Daiichi Sankyo

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