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EORTC launches a prominent clinical trial in older patients with locally advanced (LA) HNSCC (Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma)

  • The trial is expected to enrol 230 older patients with locally advanced HNSCC at 27 sites in 10 countries across Europe, commencing in Q4 2023. First Patient In has been enrolled today.

  • The study will assess the benefit of adding xevinapant to radiotherapy in terms of duration of locoregional event-free survival (LREFS) in older patients with LA-HNSCC.

Brussels, Belgium – 14 December 2023 – The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) announced on 15 November 2023 the launch of EORTC 2120 RAVINA trial supported by the EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Group and by Merck entitled “Radiotherapy plus xevinapant or placebo in older patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a randomized phase II study”. 

This randomised, placebo-controlled, phase II study will determine the efficacy and safety of xevinapant with radiotherapy in older patients. Patients aged 70 years or older with LA-HNSCC of oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, or larynx for which treatment with radiotherapy only is recommended will be enrolled in the study. 

This study aims to find out whether the addition of xevinapant increases response to radiotherapy, progression free survival and overall survival and may impact health-related quality of life, frailty and circulating markers. 

Launch of the trial across Europe 

Ten countries have been selected to participate in the trial (Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Norway and the United Kingdom) with 27 sites expected to enrol approximately 230 patients.   

Merck will provide xevinapant and the placebo. The study was submitted under the new EU Clinical Trial Regulation in March 2023. Today, 7 sites have been authorised in five countries. First Patient In has been enrolled in Belgium. 

Xevinapant (formerly known as Debio 1143) is an investigational, orally taken Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein (IAP) inhibitor that may promote cancer cell death via apoptosis. Xevinapant is believed to sensitize tumour cells for various cytotoxic therapies, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

Improving progression-free survival with limited toxicity in older patients 

Locally advanced head and neck cancer is a debilitating disease that is increasingly diagnosed in older patients. These patients often do not tolerate or benefit from addition of chemotherapy to radiotherapy and are therefore treated with radiotherapy alone. The disease relapses in more than half of the patients. An earlier study showed that xevinapant added to chemoradiotherapy reduced relapses and improved overall survival with limited extra toxicity. We therefore hypothesize that xevinapant will also improve efficacy of radiotherapy alone” said Dr. Sjoukje Oosting, Medical Oncologist at the University Medical Centre in Groningen, the Netherlands, lead investigator of the EORTC 2120 RAVINA study. 

 About EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Group 

The EORTC Head and Neck Cancer Group (HNCG) is a group of the most important academic hospitals in Europe aiming to develop new standards of care for HN cancer patients. Our research focus is the evaluation of innovative treatments and multidisciplinary approaches to increase survival and improve the quality of life of all patients with HN cancer.   

Media Contacts 

Caroline Moulins 
Email: caroline.moulins@eortc.org   

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