Orphan Drug Designation for first-in-class autotaxin cancer therapy

Pancreatic cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) to iOnctura for its autotaxin inhibitor cambritaxestat for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

After assessing its novel chemical and biological properties, including an attractive non-clinical safety and efficacy profile, the FDA has granted Orphan Drug Status, conferring certain benefits during development and commercialisation.

Following a separate submission process the World Health Organization has proposed the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) of cambritaxestat.

Cambritaxestat is being developed as a first-in-class therapy for highly fibrotic cancer indications. The drug’s lead indication is metastatic pancreatic cancer where it is being combined with standard of care nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine in the Phase I AION-02 study.

Inhibition of autotaxin is a novel treatment strategy that offers a three-pronged attack on the tumour through direct cancer cell inhibition, immune effector stimulation and inhibition of fibrotic processes, giving drugs and immune cells better access to the tumour.

Translational research showing the potential of cambritaxestat in multiple cancer models, including pancreatic cancer, has recently been published in the ESMO journal Immuno-Oncology and Technology (IOTECH), Cancer Research, the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research, and Cancers. Across these publications, cambritaxestat showed strong reduction of metastasis and tumour outgrowth in preclinical models, as well as safe and tolerable dosing in healthy volunteers.

Catherine Pickering, Chief Executive Officer, iOnctura, said: “There is an urgent need to develop new therapies for pancreatic cancer which is currently the third largest cause of death by cancer in the US, and the fourth in Europe. Although survival of patients with pancreatic cancer has improved in recent years, it still stands at just 13% after five years. This Orphan Drug Designation will support our goal to accelerate cambritaxestat through the clinic to provide a new treatment to patients with limited options.”

Megan Thomas, Multimedia Editor, DDW

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