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Clavis Pharma ASA Receives $1.1 Million Grant from Innovation Norway

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Clavis Pharma ASA has announced that it has received a government grant of up to USD 1.1 mill to accelerate the Phase II clinical programme with Intravenous CP-4126 in patients with newly diagnosed, advanced pancreatic cancer. The grant award was made by Innovation Norway.

CP-4126 is based on Clavis Pharma’s proprietary Lipid Vector Technology (LVT) and is aimed at improving the therapeutic profile of the current standard treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer gemcitabine (Gemzar®).

Research suggests that the treatment of pancreatic cancer and a number of other cancers could be improved by increasing the amount of anti-cancer agent that enters the tumor cells. In the case of pancreatic tumors published research demonstrates that up to two-thirds of patients respond poorly to gemcitabine due to deficient expression of a transport protein, hENT1 (human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1) on the cell membrane1 and sub-optimal cellular uptake of gemcitabine. The transport protein is necessary for the uptake of gemcitabine into the tumor cell and therefore it is believed that the lack of hENT1 limits the efficacy of the treatment for patients with deficient protein levels.

Intravenous CP-4126 has been designed to overcome this problem as its cellular uptake is independent of hENT1 levels on the surface of the tumor cell. This means that Intravenous CP-4126 could be an attractive treatment option in pancreatic patients with a deficient hENT1 transport system.

In the phase II programme, cancer tissue (biopsies) from each patient will be collected and analyzed in order to determine their levels of hENT1. The relationship between response to treatment and hENT1 levels will be an important output from this phase II study as this relationship could allow clinicians to predict which patients are unlikely to respond to gemcitiabine prior to therapy – patients who potentially would benefit from Intravenous CP-4126.

The USD 1.1 million grant is provided by Innovation Norway through its public R&D programme wherein an enterprise develops a novel product in collaboration with a University Hospital. In this case the contract partner for Clavis Pharma is the Oslo University Hospital with Dr. Tone Ikdahl acting as Coordinating Investigator. The grant is payable to Clavis Pharma based on project accounts in 2009 and 2010.

“This government grant will support the clinical Phase II programme we have recently started with Intravenous CP-4126 in pancreatic cancer and provide further validation of the potential of our Lipid Vector Technology to generate new products with real benefits to cancer patients around the world,” says Geir Christian Melen, CEO of Clavis Pharma. “The support by Innovation Norway and Oslo University Hospital is an acknowledgment of the exciting novel approach we have taken with Intravenous CP-4126, a drug which has the potential to become a new first-line treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer.”