Cancer drug candidate unveiled, could start human trials in 2022

11/22/2021 06:23 PM
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NHRI researchers and representatives from Launxp Biomedical Co. at the press briefing Monday. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2021
NHRI researchers and representatives from Launxp Biomedical Co. at the press briefing Monday. CNA photo Nov. 22, 2021

Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) A new cancer drug under development could begin Phase 1 testing in humans in 2022 after it obtained good results in treating eight types of cancers in tests on animals, Taiwan's National National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) announced Monday.

Hsieh Hsing-pang (謝興邦), a researcher at the NHRI's Institute of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research (IBPR), said at a press event that 40 late stage cancer patients who have not been helped by any available treatment but are still in decent physical condition will be recruited for Phase 1 clinical trials in 2022.

According to Hsieh, the new drug, known as DBPR144, is a small molecule, multi-target kinase inhibitor. A kinase is an enzyme that controls important cell functions, and it can be active in the growth of some types of cancer cells.

The eight types of cancers against which it showed success through in vivo studies in animals were pancreatic, oral, gastric, and liver cancer as well as acute myeloid leukemia and bladder, prostate, and colorectal cancer, Hsieh said.

"Because it is particularly effective in gastroenterology-related cancers, we are likely to first target patients with pancreatic, liver, bladder, and gastric cancer in the initial clinical trial," he said.

Multi-target drugs, which take aim at several targets rather than more common medications that only take aim at a single biological substance, more effectively inhibit cancer cell proliferation and overcome drug resistance, he said.

During the Phase 1 trial, the volunteers will be give DBPR114 once a week to determine what a safe dosage of the new drug would be, Hsieh said.

Chen Chiu-heng (陳丘泓), general manager of Launxp Biomedical Co., which will be responsible for manufacturing the drug, said cancer patients from Taiwan and Australia will be recruited to take part in initial phase trials, which will take two years.

Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials, which should each take two to three years, will focus on cancers for which promising results were obtained in Phase 1. At least six years will be needed to complete human trials, Chen said.

"This novel multi-targeted agent is our new hope for treating cancer patients," IBPR Director Chang Jang-yang (張俊彥) said at the same press conference.

Cancer has been the top cause of death in Taiwan for 41 years, he said, and the five-year survival rates among patients with major types of cancer remained low, especially the 5 percent survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients.

(By Flor Wang and Chen Chieh-ling)

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