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Drug discovery and development company e-Therapeutics (LON:ETX) is to start a US phase I clinical trial for its brain cancer drug ETS2101.
The trial is one of two studies scheduled for the drug, with a larger, UK-based trial studying the drug in patients with a variety of tumour types also starting shortly.
The US phase I trial is enrolling up to 24 brain cancer patients with primary brain cancer, called glioma, or cancer that has spread to the brain from other sites. First findings are expected in late 2012.
Chief financial officer Daniel Elger said: “This a very important progress step on what is a key asset in our portfolio. We are delighted that we are able to pursue the trials with a leading US centre.”
Broker Panmure Gordon said the confirmation for glioma as a first target indication for the drug candidate could enhance its valuation assumptions.
This is because in glioma there is an increased probability of receiving orphan drug designation, which is given for rare disease treatments, and implies seven year market exclusivity in the US.
Analyst Savvas Neophytou said this represents “significant upside” to the broker’s valuation because it had previously not included US sales in its valuation.
“Accordingly, we reiterate our Buy recommendation.”
ETS2101 works by overcoming cancer cells’ ability to evade apoptosis, which is the mechanism where cells normally self-destruct if they become dysfunctional.
Elger said the company decided to also run a brain cancer trial alongside the standard autonomous UK trial because ETS2101 had shown it can cross into the brain, unlike many current cancer drugs. It also showed promising and "exciting" data in pre-clinical trials.
The primary objective of the trial is to evaluate safety and to determine an appropriate dose for phase II studies.
Development director, Steve Self, said: “Advancing ETS2101 into trials was one of our key goals following last year’s refinancing and refocusing of our business. We look forward with interest to seeing the first results from the clinic.”
e-Therapeutics currently has three clinical candidates, spanning cancer, infectious diseases, such as hospital infection bug MRSA, and psychiatric disorders.
e-Therapeutics uses its network pharmacology platform for drug discovery, which looks at all the effects a molecule might have on all the networks in the cell, unlike other methods which just target single proteins.
On the back of the news the share price is up 0.6 per cent to 34.6 pence.