Combating cancer across the pond
January 2013
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


LONDON—Lorus Therapeutics Inc., Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office and Cancer Research Technology, the charity's commercial arm, have announced a partnership to take a new solid tumors therapy into its first clinical trial.

Under the agreement, Cancer Research UK will handle the preclinical work necessary for regulatory submission. Lorus will manufacture the material for the process, and will have an exclusive option to license the Phase I clinical data and take over further clinical development. If the option is not exercised, the rights to the background intellectual property will go to Cancer Research Technology to secure another commercial partner. A revenue share would go to Lorus from any revenues made by Cancer Research Technology. Specific financial details were not released.

"Cancer Research UK is world renowned for its cancer research and has done similar partnership deals through its CDP initiative with some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies," Dr. Aiping Young, president and CEO of Lorus, said in a press release. "We believe this partnership with Cancer Research UK is not only a validation of our IL-17E technology, but it also offers Lorus an innovative avenue to develop this program and affords us the opportunity to progress as many of our programs as possible into the clinic."

The treatment, he added, "fits all the criteria to potentially qualify as a truly unique, first-in-class, cytokine-based approach to treating a range of solid tumors."

IL-17E is a pro-inflammatory cytokine, a protein thought to engender an immune response that attacks cancer cells. The treatment incorporates technology owned by both Lorus and Genentech. Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office will fund and undertake preclinical work led by Prof. Christian Ottensmeier at the University of Southampton to further investigate the protein's mechanism of action, then fund, manage and sponsor the first Phase I clinical trial, to be led by Prof. Chris Twelves and Dr. Christy Ralph at the Cancer Research UK/NIHR Leeds Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, based at the University of Leeds.

The partnership is one of many in Cancer Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP), a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office and Cancer Research Technology. The initiative works with promising anticancer agents, ones that might not be developed otherwise, and moves them through preclinical development and early clinical trials.

Cancer Research UK's CDP initiative currently has a number of projects underway, at various stages of development, with both pharma and biotech partners, says Dr. Victoria John, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office. The partnership with Lorus represents the first time the organizations have worked together, but John notes that the organizations share an objective.

"Lorus has the same objective as the charity—to ensure new treatments are being made available to cancer patients—but was unable to resource this program fully themselves and sought CDP as a route to develop it," she explains. "In addition, for potential patient benefit, there was a strong preclinical rationale and high scientific interest for taking this into cancer."

"IL-17E is the third biological treatment we have brought into the CDP portfolio, building on our existing partnerships with international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop a multipeptide vaccine, a monoclonal antibody as well as five other molecularly targeted drugs," said John in a press release. "This latest partnership further demonstrates the breadth of molecules we can develop. And we will continue to seek future partnerships, so that by working alongside industry to combine skills and expertise, we can reach our goal to license new treatments and save more lives from cancer."

Code: E011306

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