Singapore-based ASLAN Pharmaceuticals (ASLAN), announced the designation as an Orphan drug of its pan-HER inhibitor varlitinib (ASLAN001) by the US FDA for gastric cancer. Varlitinib previously received Orphan Drug Designation for cholangiocarcinoma in August 2015.  ASLAN is currently conducting phase 2 studies of varlitinib in gastric cancer, cholangiocarcinoma and breast cancer

Gastric cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that is most often diagnosed when it is already in its advanced stage. Prognosis for the disease remains poor despite it being the third leading cause of cancer deaths globally. Worldwide, gastric cancer has one of the highest incidence rates, with 952,000 new cases diagnosed in 20121 . In Asia, gastric cancer is the third most common cancer after breast and liver, and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Asia.