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Drug Developed in U.K. to Treat Solid Tumors

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012
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Cancer Research U.K.'s Drug Development Office; Cancer Research Technology, and Lorus Therapeutics Inc. have partnered to take a new therapy with the potential to treat solid tumors into its first clinical trial.

The treatment, IL-17E, is a type of protein called a pro-inflammatory cytokine which, according to research done at Lorus, is thought to elicit an immune response which attacks cancer cells, and determining exactly how it does this will form part of the work being done. It incorporates technology owned by both Lorus and Genentech, after Lorus scientists discovered the anticancer properties of IL-17E against a range of solid tumors.

Cancer Research U.K.'s Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office (DDO) and Cancer Research Technology. The partnership seeks to develop promising anticancer agents that may not otherwise be developed, and take them through preclinical development and early clinical trials.

With the CDP scheme, companies retain the background rights to their programs while enabling Cancer Research U.K. to take on early development work to evaluate the benefit to cancer patients. Three drugs are now in clinical trials with others scheduled to open in early 2013.

Cancer Research U.K.'s DDO will fund and undertake extensive preclinical work led by Professor Christian Ottensmeier at the University of Southampton, England, to further investigate the mechanism by which the protein destroys cancer cells and to further develop the drug for use in treating cancer patients.

The DDO will then fund, manage, and sponsor the first Phase I clinical trial led by Professor Chris Twelves and Dr. Christy Ralph at the Cancer Research U.K./NIHR Leeds Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, based at the University of Leeds, England. Lorus will manufacture and supply IL-17E for the non-clinical toxicology and Phase I clinical studies.

After the Phase I trial, Lorus will have the exclusive option to license the Phase I clinical trial data and resume further clinical development. If it does not exercise this option, the rights to the program would be transferred to Cancer Research Technology to secure an alternative partner, with the aim to make the treatment available for cancer patients while Lorus would retain certain economic interests.

IL-17E was selected following a rigorous peer-review process conducted by Cancer Research U.K.'s New Agents Committee (NAC). Assessment of IL-17E by the NAC was based on several criteria, including scientific rationale, quality of the anticancer data in relevant tumor models, novelty, and clinical need. IL-17E is the eighth treatment to enter Cancer Research U.K.'s Clinical Development Partnerships scheme.

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