Resistance-busting ICR drug enters clinical trial

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, has discovered a drug that could counteract drug resistance in patients with cancers including acute myeloid leukaemia. It has entered a Phase I clinical trial at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

The drug, now called EP0042, is a dual inhibitor of cancer-driving proteins from the Aurora and FLT3 families. It is expected to work as a potential treatment for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, and could succeed in targeting FLT3-mutated cancers that become resistant to current FLT3-selective inhibitor drugs. It has also shown potential as a future treatment for other cancers including the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Under the terms of a deal between the ICR and drug development company Ellipses Pharma, the company took full responsibility for the development programme including additional pre-clinical studies and reformulation of the drug product to obtain a clinical trial authorisation, progression into the clinic for the first-in-human clinical trial, and any further clinical studies needed.

EP0042 was originally discovered in a project led by Spiros Linardopoulos, former Team Leader in Target Drug Discovery in the ICR’s Cancer Therapeutics and Breast Cancer Research Divisions.

The drug has now entered a Phase I trial with study centres planned in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia. If the Phase I trial is successful, the drug could go on to larger trials and ultimately become a new treatment for cancers including acute myeloid leukaemia and neuroblastoma.

Dr David Taussig, Consultant Haematologist at The Royal Marsden and Honorary Team Leader in Acute Leukaemia at the ICR and global co-ordinating investigator on the study, said: “EP0042 is a great example of the highly collaborative ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach of The Royal Marsden and ICR, with researchers working closely with clinicians to pioneer new and increasingly personalised treatments in order to improve and save the lives of cancer patients throughout the UK and beyond. We are also hugely encouraged by the involvement and support of Ellipses in the development of this drug.”

Dr Rajan Jethwa, Chief Executive Officer of Ellipses Pharma, said: “The creation and commencement of this trial reflects our commitment to accelerating the development of promising and innovative cancer treatments. We are delighted to be working collaboratively with the ICR and the Royal Marsden to take this exciting trial forward.”

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