Tel Aviv University Researchers Target Drug-Resistant Ovarian Tumors with Nanotechnology

Tel Aviv University researchers devise a fast and effective nanotechnology — called “gagomers” — to combat drug-resistant ovarian cancer.

Professor Dan Peer of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Cell Research and Immunology has proposed a new strategy to tackle drug-resistant ovarian cancer using a new nanoscale drug-delivery system designed to target specific cancer cells. The study was published in February in the journal ACS Nano.

Nanotechnology usually refers to an object that is 1-to–100 nanometers in size. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter. By comparison, the width of a strand of hair is approximately 100,000 times larger than a nanometer.

Prof. Peer and his team — Keren Cohen and Rafi Emmanuel from Peer’s Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Einat Kisin-Finfer and Doron Shabbat, from TAU’s Department of Chemistry — devised a cluster of nanoparticles called “gagomers,” which are made from fats and coated with a kind of polysugar. When filled with chemotherapy drugs (in this case doxorubicin), these clusters accumulate in tumors, producing dramatic therapeutic benefits.

The objective of Peer’s research is two-fold: to provide a specific target for anti-cancer drugs to increase their therapeutic benefits, and to reduce the toxic side effects of anti-cancer therapies.

Why Chemotherapy Fails

According to Prof. Peer, traditional courses of chemotherapy are not an effective line of attack. Chemotherapy’s failing lies in the inability of the medicine to be absorbed and maintained within the tumor cell long enough to destroy it. In most cases, the chemotherapy drug is almost immediately ejected by the cancer cell, severely damaging the healthy organs that surround it, leaving the tumor cell intact.

Gagomers (labeled in color) accumulating on ovarian cancer cells. (Credit: Image courtesy of American Friends of Tel Aviv University)

Gagomers (labeled in color) accumulating on ovarian cancer cells.
(Credit: Image courtesy of American Friends of Tel Aviv University)

But with this new nanotechnology therapy, Peer and his colleagues saw a 25-fold increase in tumor-accumulated medication and a dramatic dip in toxic accumulation in healthy organs. Tested on laboratory mice, the gagomer affects a change in drug-resistant ovarian cancer tumor cells. Receptors on tumor cells recognize the sugar that encases the gagomer, allowing the binding gagomer to slowly release tiny particles of chemotherapy into the cancerous cell. As more and more of the drug accumulates within the tumor cell, the cancer cells begin to die off within 24-48 hours. In this preclinical setting, the doxorubicin encased gagomers even outperformed pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil) — a standard of care drug used to treat recurrent ovarian cancer.

“Tumors become resistant very quickly. Following the first, second, and third courses of chemotherapy, the tumors start pumping drugs out of the cells as a survival mechanism,” said Prof. Peer. “Most patients with tumor cells beyond the ovaries relapse and ultimately die due to the development of drug resistance. We wanted to create a safe drug-delivery system, which wouldn’t harm the body’s immune system or organs.”

A Personal Perspective

Prof. Peer chose to tackle ovarian cancer in his research because his mother-in-law passed away at the age of 54 from the disease. “She received all the courses of chemotherapy and survived only a year and a half,” Peer said. “She died from the drug-resistant aggressive tumors.”

“At the end of the day, you want to do something natural, simple, and smart. We are committed to try to combine both laboratory and therapeutic arms to create a less toxic, focused drug that combats aggressive drug-resistant cancerous cells,” said Prof. Peer. “We hope the concept will be harnessed in the next few years in clinical trials on aggressive tumors,” said Prof. Peer.

Sources:

Can Iran Solve the Current U.S. Doxil/Caelyx Cancer Drug Shortage?

Iran expects to bring a  cancer nanodrug called “Sinadoxosome” to market next month. Sinadoxosome is apparently similiar to pegylated liposomal doxorubicin which is marketed under the brand name “Doxil” in the U.S. and “Caelyx” in Europe. Doxil/Caelyx has been in extreme short supply in the U.S. and Europe, thereby causing potential detriment to many ovarian cancer patients.

Iran inaugurated the production line of an anti-cancer nanodrug under the name “Sinadoxosome” in the Northern city of Rasht, and the medicine will soon come to market.

In addition to producing the amount of nanodrug required by Iran, the new drug production line makes possible the exportation of the drug to other countries. The drug acquired the necessary certificates from Nanotechnology Committee of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education in November 2011.

Dr. Mahmoud Reza Ja’fari, the Managing Director of Exir Nano Sina Company, told the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council’s reporter that the anti-cancer drug Sinadoxosome would be presented to the market next month.

“This product has been produced by the knowledge-based company Exir Nano Sina in association with Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council. It has acquired the production certificate from the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education,” Dr. Ja’fari added.

Pointing to the fact that the production of this medicine had been “monopolized” by European countries (under the “Caelyx” brand name) and by the United States (under the “Doxil” brand name), the Head of Nanotechnology Research Centre of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences said: “The importation of this medicine cost [sic] $5 mln annually. However, this medicine will be presented to the patients at one-third of the price of the foreign drug after the establishment of Sinadoxosome production line.”

Sinadoxosome contains nano liposomes that contain doxorubicin anti-cancer medicine. It targets the tumor tissue and boosts the effect of the medicine but decreases its side effects. The medicine has applications in the treatment of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and Kaposi’s sarcoma (a type of soft tissue cancer).

The production line involving the Sinadoxosome anti-cancer drug was established on February 8, 2012, in the presence of Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council’s authorities and the managing director and researchers of the Sobhan Oncology Pharmaceutical Company.

*          *          *

In the YouTube video presented below, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, delivered the opening statement at a 2011 committee hearing examining the impact of drug shortages in America.

Source: Iran to Present New Anti-Cancer Nanodrug to Market Soon, Iran Nano-Technology Initiative Council, February 15, 2012.

Additional Doxil & Drug Shortage Information:

2011 ASCO: Exelixis Reports Expanded Cabozantinib (XL184) Phase II Data For Advanced Ovarian Cancer; Six Deaths Reported

Exelixis, Inc. reported expanded Phase 2 study data with respect to cabozantinib (XL184) use in advanced ovarian cancer patients at the recent 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. The overall solid tumor Phase 2 safety and tolerability data reference six deaths, including two ovarian cancer patients.

Ronald J. Buckanovich, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Departments of Internal Medicine & Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan

Exelixis, Inc. reported expanded Phase 2 study data with respect to cabozantinib (XL184) use in advanced ovarian cancer patients at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting . The overall solid tumor Phase 2 safety and tolerability data refers to six deaths, including two ovarian cancer patients.

On May 19, 2011, we reported promising cabozantinib phase 2 solid tumor (including ovarian) data, which was presented at an ASCO press briefing held in advance of the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting. As noted in our May 19 article, cabozantinib demonstrated excellent activity against several solid tumors, including ovarian cancer. In addition, we reported that cabozantinib showed promising activity in ovarian cancer patients independent of prior response to platinum drug-based therapies.

Ronald J. Buckanovich, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Departments of Internal Medicine & Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, presented the expanded cabozantinib Phase 2 data relating to use of the drug in advanced ovarian cancer patients, on June 4 at the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Ovarian Cancer Patient Population & Overall Response Rate

(Image Source: Exelixis, Inc.)

The cabozantinib trial is an ongoing phase 2 adaptive randomized discontinuation trial. As of the February 11, 2011 cut-off date, accrual in the cabozantinib study cohort was complete at 70 patients.

The 70 patients enrolled in the ovarian cancer cohort received oral cabozantinib (100 mg) daily over a 12 week “Lead-in Stage.” These patients had a minimum follow-up of at least 12 weeks and were thus evaluable for safety and the primary efficacy endpoint of response per RECIST (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors).

Patient tumor response was assessed every 6 weeks. Receipt of cabozantinib treatment beyond the 12 week open label Lead-in Stage was based upon patient response: (1) patients with a partial response (PR) or complete response (CR) continued taking cabozantinib, (2) patients with stable disease (SD) were randomized to the cabozantinib treatment arm or the placebo treatment arm (collectively referred to as the “Blinded Randomized Stage”), and (iii) patients with progressive disease (PD) discontinued study treatment. The study primary endpoint was overall response rate (ORR) per RECIST in the Lead-in Stage, and progression free survival (PFS) in the Blinded Randomized Stage. Accrual in any cohort could be halted for high ORR or PD.

Approximately half of the 70 patients enrolled in the cohort were considered platinum drug-refractory/-resistant (49%), defined as a platinum drug-free interval of 6 months or less, and the remainder of patients (51%) had platinum-sensitive disease based on a platinum-free interval greater than 6 months.

The baseline patient tumor histologic characteristics are as follows: serous ovarian cancer (79%), clear cell ovarian cancer (4%), endometrioid ovarian cancer (6%), and other forms of ovarian cancer (11%)

More than half the patients (57%) received 2 or more prior lines of platinum therapy prior to trial enrollment. Some patients also had additional prior lines of therapy with agents such as pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (brand name: Doxil®) or topotecan (brand name: Hycamtin®) (32%), gemcitabine (brand name: Gemzar®) (29%), and VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) pathway inhibitors (10%).

Evidence of objective tumor regression was observed in 73% of patients with at least 1 post-baseline medical imaging scan. The best overall response rate per RECIST criteria was 24% (16 PRs and 1 CR). The overall Week-12 disease control rate (DRC = CR + PR + SD) was 53%. The Week-12 DCRs in the platinum drug-refractory, -resistant, and -sensitive groups were 36%, 39%, and 67%, respectively.

Based on an observed high rate of clinical activity, randomization was halted, and randomized patients were unblinded.  At this point, the unblinded randomized patients that were treated with placebo were allowed to “cross-over” to treatment with cabozantinib. Disease stabilization was experienced by some ovarian cancer patients who had progressive disease prior to treatment cross-over.

“These latest results in metastatic ovarian cancer demonstrate the potential broad utility of cabozantinib beyond bone-predominant types of cancers such as castration-resistant prostate cancer. The high rates of durable response with our dual inhibitor of MET and VEGFR2 compare favorably to those of other single-agent targeted therapies and cytotoxic agents in development,” said Michael M. Morrissey, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Exelixis. “These results underscore the potential of cabozantinib in metastatic ovarian cancer, and we are in discussions with leading cooperative groups to plan further evaluation of cabozantinib in randomized trials for this indication.”

Activity in Platinum Drug-Sensitive, -Refractory, and -Resistant Disease

Ignace Vergote, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the cabozantinib (XL184) ASCO presentation & Chairman, Leuven Cancer Institute, University of Leuven, European Union

(Image Source: Exelixis, Inc.)

Two of 11 patients (18%) with platinum refractory disease, defined as a platinum-free interval of <1 month, achieved a confirmed response (1 CR and 1 PR).

In the subset of patients with platinum-resistant disease, defined as a platinum-free interval of 1-6 months, 5 of 23 (22%) achieved a PR.

Ten of 36 patients (28%) with platinum sensitive disease achieved a PR.

A total of 37 patients experienced reductions in the ovarian cancer tumor marker CA-125 (cancer antigen-125), including 8 with decreases greater than 50%. There is no consistent concordance between CA-125 changes and tumor regression. The median duration of response has not yet been reached with 36 weeks of median follow-up.

“The continued activity of cabozantinib in a larger population of ovarian cancer patients is very encouraging, especially with respect to the clinical benefit observed in both platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant/refractory disease. This activity profile has not been observed with other single-agent TKIs [tyrosine kinase inhibitors], and cabozantinib has the potential to be an important new treatment for ovarian cancer,” said Ignace Vergote, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the presentation and Chairman of the Leuven Cancer Institute at the University of Leuven, European Union. “The high rate of disease control in platinum-resistant and platinum-refractory disease suggests that cabozantinib may help to address the substantial unmet medical need faced by patients who have sub-optimal responses to platinum-based therapies. I believe that further evaluation will help to define the potential role of cabozantinib in the treatment of ovarian cancer.”

General Safety & Tolerability Data 

Safety data are available for the 70 patients in the Lead-In phase of the cabozantinib study. The most common CTCAE (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Eventsgrade 3 or 4 adverse events (AEs), regardless of causality, were diarrhea (10%), fatigue (9%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia  syndrome (also referred as “hand-foot syndrome”)(7%), vomiting (4%), abdominal pain (3%), hypomagnesemia (3%), and nausea, constipation, rash, increased transaminase, and hypertension (each 1%). At least one dose reduction was reported in 37% of patients. Less frequent important medical events, regardless of causality, were hemorrhage (11% all CTCAE grades, 0% CTCAE grade 3 or 4), venous thrombosis (6% all CTCAE grades, 4% CTCAE grade 3 or 4), and gastrointestinal perforation (6% all CTCAE grades, 0% CTCAE grade 3 or 4).

To access the cabozantinib clinical study data information, please visit www.exelixis.com/sites/default/files/pdf/ASCO_2011-XL184-Ovarian.pdf

Six Deaths Reported (Including Two Ovarian Cancer Patients)

If you examine the Exelixis press release dated June 4 (entitled, Exelixis’ Cabozantinib Demonstrates Encouraging Clinical Activity in Patients with Metastatic Ovarian Cancer — Disease control rate of 53% at week 12, response rate of 24%), which addresses data for cabozantinib use in advanced ovarian cancer patients, pay particular attention to the wording under the heading entitled, “Safety and Tolerability.”  Within the wording set forth under that heading, you will find the following statement: “Two cabozantinib-related grade 5 AEs [adverse events], one enterocutaneous fistula and one intestinal perforation, were reported after the Lead-In phase.” Pursuant to the CTCAE guidelines, a “grade 5 adverse event” is defined as “death related to AE [adverse event].”

We should also note that the two ovarian cancer deaths were summarized briefly in the ASCO presentation regarding cabozantinib use in advanced ovarian cancer.

The reporting of all six deaths is set forth in the Exelixis press release, dated June 5, 2011 (entitled, Exelixis’ Cabozantinib Demonstrates Broad Clinical Activity in Multiple Tumor Types), in similar fashion. Within this release, the sentence provided under the heading “Safety and Tolerability” states: “There were 6 (1%) cabozantinib-related grade 5 [adverse] events, all of which were reported after the Lead-In phase of the trial: respiratory compromise (breast cancer), hemorrhage (NSCLC [non-small cell lung cancer]), enterocutaneous perforation (ovarian cancer), intestinal perforation (ovarian cancer), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (pancreatic cancer), and death (CRPC [castrate resistant prostate cancer]).”

Exelixis Chief Executive Michael Morrissey said the safety statistics are consistent with targeted cancer therapies like cabozantinib that block a pathway used by tumor cells to secure blood vessels.

Cowen & Co analyst Eric Schmidt said the rate of cabozantinib treatment-related deaths — 1 percent — was “no different from what we have seen for every other Phase 1 and 2 trials here at ASCO.”

“While drug safety is of less concern in cancer indications than in others, the apparent morbidities associated with cabo[zantinib] use will confound interpretation of clinical benefit in a trial designed to show anything less than overall survival,” Canaccord analyst George Farmer said in a research note.

In a note to investors, Piper Jaffray analyst Edward Tenthoff said: “The company is exploring lower doses, but the concern is that cabo[zantinib] will not retain the impressive efficacy seen to date.”

Mr. Morrissey said Exelixis plans to move forward with the current daily 100 mg dose of the drug.

Dr. Nicholas J. Vogelzang (Director, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada) Discusses Mortalities in the Cabozantinib (XL184) Trial

Take Away Message

  • Cabozantinib demonstrates promising activity in both platinum drug-sensitive and platinum drug-resistant/-refractory ovarian cancer.
  • Week 12 overall disease control rate of 53%.
  • Response rates of 18% in platinum-refractory, 22% in platinum-resistant and 28% in platinum-sensitive patients.
  • Cabozantinib shows encouraging duration of response.
  • After 36 weeks of follow-up, median duration of response not reached.
  • Tolerability profile is consistent with that of other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (6 solid tumor patient deaths (1% of all solid tumor pts), including 2 ovarian cancer patients (3% of ovarian cancer pts)).
  • Discordant effects observed between CA-125 changes and clinical activity.
  • Simultaneous targeting of MET and VEGFR2 with cabozantinib results in robust effects in patients with advanced ovarian cancer.
  • Non-randomized expansion cohort is currently accruing in platinum-resistant/-refractory ovarian cancer.

About the MET & VEGFR2 Pathways

To learn more about (i) the role of MET in cancer, (ii) the relationship between the MET and VEGFR pathways, and (iii) the dual inhibition of MET and VEGFR2, visit http://www.metinhibition.com/.

About Cabozantinib (XL184)

Cabozantinib (XL184) is a potent, dual inhibitor of MET and VEGFR2. Cabozantinib is an investigational agent that provides coordinated inhibition of metastasis and angiogenesis to kill tumor cells while blocking their escape pathways. The therapeutic role of cabozantinib is currently being investigated across several tumor types. MET is upregulated in many tumor types, thus facilitating tumor cell escape by promoting the formation of more aggressive phenotypes, resulting in metastasis. MET-driven metastasis may be further stimulated by hypoxic conditions (i.e., deprivation of adequate oxygen supply) in the tumor environment, which are often exacerbated by selective VEGF-pathway inhibitors. In preclinical studies, cabozantinib has shown powerful tumoricidal, anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenic effects, including: (i) extensive apoptosis of malignant cells; (ii) decreased tumor invasiveness and metastasis; (iii) decreased tumor and endothelial cell proliferation; (iv) blockade of metastatic bone lesion progression; and (v) disruption of tumor vasculature.

About Exelixis

Exelixis, Inc. is a biotechnology company committed to developing small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. Exelixis is focusing its resources and development efforts exclusively on cabozantinib, its most advanced solely-owned product candidate, in order to maximize the therapeutic and commercial potential of this compound. Exelixis believes cabozantinib has the potential to be a high-quality, differentiated pharmaceutical product that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients. Exelixis has also established a portfolio of other novel compounds that it believes have the potential to address serious unmet medical needs. For more information, please visit the company’s web site at www.exelixis.com

Sources: 

Cabozantinib (XL184) Clinical Trial Information
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2011 ASCO: EC145 Demonstrates 85 Percent Improvement in Progression-Free Survival for Treatment of Platinum Resistant Ovarian Cancer

EC145, in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil®/Caelyx®) in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, met its primary endpoint by showing an 85 percent (2.3 month) improvement in median progression-free survival in the intent-to-treat population, and a 260 percent (4.0 month) improvement in a subset of folate receptor positive patients. The final EC145 phase 2 clinical study data were presented today at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

EC145 delivers a very potent vinca chemotherapy directly to cancer cells by targeting the folate receptor expressed on cancer cells, but not on most normal cells. Approximately 80-90 percent of ovarian and lung cancers express the receptor, as do many other types of cancer. Click on the picture above to view a video regarding EC145's mechanism of action. (Photo: Endocyte, Inc.)

Endocyte, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing targeted small molecule drug conjugates (SMDCs) and companion imaging diagnostics for personalized therapy, today announced that the phase 2 PRECEDENT trial, which is investigating the company’s lead drug candidate, EC145, in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD)(brand name: Doxil®/Caelyx®) in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, met its primary endpoint by showing: (i) an 85 percent (2.3 month) improvement in median progression-free survival (PFS) in the intent-to-treat population, and (ii) a 260 percent (4.0 month) improvement in a subset of folate receptor positive patients. EC145 in combination with PLD showed limited additional toxicity compared to standard therapy with PLD alone. The most commonly occurring adverse events were neutropenia, small intestine obstruction, and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (or hand-foot syndrome). EC145 is a therapeutic that targets the folate receptor and EC20 is a companion imaging diagnostic used to assess folate receptor presence.

These final PFS data from the PRECEDENT trial were presented today at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago, Illinois and are available at http://investor.endocyte.com/events.cfm.

“I am encouraged by these data as EC145 is the first drug candidate to demonstrate a significant improvement in PFS in a randomized trial of patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, a very challenging disease with a high unmet need. Historical data show that for these patients on standard therapy, PFS is approximately three months and overall survival is approximately twelve months. No new drug has been approved in the U.S. for this indication in over a decade,” said Wendel Naumann, M.D., Associate Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Blumenthal Cancer Center, Carolinas Medical Center. “In addition the companion imaging diagnostic, EC20, is designed to identify patients who over-express the targeted receptor and are most likely to respond to EC145. This represents a personalized therapeutic approach that I believe will help oncologists direct patients to the most promising treatment.”

EC145 Phase 2 PRECEDENT Clinical Study Data 

The Phase 2 PRECEDENT trial was an international, multi-center, randomized study of 149 women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. Patients were randomized to receive EC145 plus PLD or PLD alone at a standard dose until disease progression or death. The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival. Secondary endpoints included response rate and overall survival.

The EC145 phase 2 PRECEDENT trial results are summarized below.

  • 85 Percent (2.3 Month) Improvement in Median Progression-Free Survival for All Patients

Patients receiving EC145 in combination with PLD, regardless of folate receptor expression, had a median progression free survival of 5.0 months compared to 2.7 months for patients receiving single agent PLD. The hazard ratio for PFS was 0.626 (p=0.031). The overall response rate was 28 percent in the EC145 combination group versus 16 percent in the PLD-alone group. CA-125 (cancer antigen-125) responses were also more common in patients receiving EC145 in combination with PLD compared to those receiving PLD alone, with response rates (based on CA-125 blood serum measurement) of 38 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

  • 260 Percent (4.0 Month) Improvement in Median Progression-Free Survival for Patients Most Positive for Folate Receptor

The study also utilized EC20, an investigational companion imaging diagnostic that is designed to identify patients with folate receptor positive tumors. As expected, in the folate receptor positive patients the improvement in PFS was even greater. In the subpopulation most positive for the folate receptor, PFS increased 4.0 months from 1.5 months to 5.5 months. The hazard ratio for PFS was 0.381 (p=0.018). This represents more than a 60 percent reduction in the risk of progression and provides evidence supporting the mechanism of action through targeting of the folate receptor. The overall response rate was 22 percent in the EC145 combination group versus 7 percent in the PLD alone group. CA-125 responses were also more common in patients receiving EC145 in combination with PLD compared to those receiving PLD alone, 43 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

“We see tremendous potential for continued development of EC145 based on these data that demonstrate, for the first time, a significant improvement in PFS in patients with platinum resistant ovarian cancer,” said Ron Ellis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Endocyte. “We have already advanced EC145 into Phase 3 evaluation with the PROCEED trial, which has a similar design to the PRECEDENT trial, and plan to file for regulatory approval in the European Union based on the PFS data from the PRECEDENT study.”

Plan to File PRECEDENT Data for Conditional Approval in Europe

As a result of Endocyte’s interaction with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), including a meeting with the Scientific Advice Working Party and written advice from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), the Company will prepare marketing applications for both EC145 and EC20. Based on feedback from the CHMP, Endocyte plans to seek conditional marketing authorization for patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer who test positive for the folate receptor using the EC20 companion imaging diagnostic.

Phase 3 PROCEED Trial Initiated

Endocyte recently announced the initiation of patient enrollment in the Phase 3 PROCEED trial of EC145, which is structured to replicate the PRECEDENT trial design. The Phase 3 trial is a randomized, double-blinded trial of EC145 in combination with PLD compared to PLD plus placebo. The patient population — those with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer — will be the same as in the PRECEDENT trial, and the primary endpoint will be progression-free survival in patients selected by EC20 as folate-receptor positive. The trial will also be statistically powered for overall survival as a secondary endpoint with projected enrollment in excess of 500 patients. The trial will be conducted in approximately 150 sites in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  More information regarding the trial is available at www.clinicaltrials.gov.

About EC145

EC145 is a conjugate of the vitamin folate and a super-potent vinca alkaloid. Folate is required for cell division and rapidly dividing cancer cells often over-express folate receptors in order to capture enough folate to support cell division. By attaching a chemotherapy drug to folate through proprietary chemistry, EC145 targets cancer cells while avoiding most normal cells. This targeted approach is designed to provide treatment with super-potent drugs while lowering toxicity compared to standard chemotherapy.

About EC20

EC20 is a folate-targeted molecular imaging agent that is being developed as a non-invasive method to identify tumors that over-express folate receptors. These tumors are the molecular target of Endocyte’s folate-targeted therapeutic compounds such as EC145. To date, EC20 has been administered to over 500 patients and has been found to be well tolerated.

About Endocyte

Endocyte is a biopharmaceutical company developing targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. Endocyte uses its proprietary technology to create novel small molecule drug conjugates (SMDCs) and companion imaging diagnostics for personalized targeted therapies. The company’s SMDCs actively target receptors that are over-expressed on diseased cells, relative to healthy cells. This targeted approach is designed to enable the treatment of patients with highly active drugs at greater doses, delivered more frequently, and over longer periods of time than would be possible with the untargeted drug alone. The companion imaging diagnostics are designed to identify patients whose disease over-expresses the target of the therapy and who are therefore more likely to benefit from treatment.

Sources:

  • EC145 PRECEDENT Trial Results — 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting Poster Presentation, June 5, 2011. [Adobe Reader PDF document]
EC145 PROCEED Clinical Trial Information:
Related Libby’s H*O*P*E* Video:
Related Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ Postings:

Two Combination Treatment Regimens Added to Updated NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently updated the NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer to include two additional combination treatment regimens for women with select types of recurring ovarian cancer.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently updated the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines for Oncology™ for Ovarian Cancer to reflect the addition of two preferred combination regimens for a specific cohort of patients based on data from recent clinical research studies.

Key updates to the NCCN Guidelines include the addition of carboplatin (Paraplatin®, Bristol-Myers Squibb)/weekly paclitaxel (Taxol®, Bristol-Myers Squibb) and carboplatin/liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil®, Centocor Ortho Biotech) for cytotoxic therapy for patients with platinum-sensitive epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or primary peritoneal cancer that has recurred.

These modifications made to the NCCN Guidelines for ovarian cancer are based on results from recent studies in The Lancet and The Journal of Clinical Oncology demonstrating that both combination regimens improved median progression-free survival in women with specific types of recurring ovarian cancer as compared to conventional regimens. In addition, the carboplatin/weekly paclitaxel regimen improved overall survival.

Robert J. Morgan, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.P., Professor, Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center

“Ovarian cancer is a challenge to treat because by the time the majority of the women are diagnosed with the disease, it has already progressed to stage III or IV,” says Robert J. Morgan, MD, of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and the chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Ovarian Cancer. “Although finding effective screening tools remains a priority, new treatment options for women with ovarian cancer such as the ones outlined in the updated NCCN Guidelines, remains imperative to making steady progress against the disease.”

Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer in the United States and the country’s fifth most common cause of cancer mortality in women. In the year 2009, there were more than 21,000 new diagnoses and nearly 15,000 deaths from this neoplasm in the United States.

The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™ are developed and updated through an evidence-based process with explicit review of the scientific evidence integrated with expert judgment by multidisciplinary panels of physicians from NCCN Member Institutions. The most recent version of this and all the NCCN Guidelines are available free of charge at NCCN.org.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers, is dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers. The primary goal of all NCCN initiatives is to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of oncology practice so patients can live better lives.

Sources:

2009 ASCO Annual Meeting Highlights: Ovarian Cancer & Select General Issues

The 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting was held in Orlando, Florida from May 29 through June 2, 2009.  We provide below select highlights from the 2009 ASCO Annual Meeting that relate to ovarian cancer and other general issues.

The 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting was held in Orlando, Florida from May 29 through June 2, 2009.  We provide below select highlights from the 2009 ASCO Annual Meeting that relate to ovarian cancer and other general issues. Learn more about How to Read a Medical Abstract in a Research Study.

Development Time of Cancer Clinical Trials Linked to Accrual Goals.

Physicians Need to Address Prescription Costs With Patients Who Participate In Clinical Trials.

Availability of Experimental Therapy Outside of Randomized Clinical Trials In Oncology.

ASCO Fertility Preservation Guidelines For Cancer Patients Not Widely Followed By Oncologists.

Ginger (Zindol®) Quells Cancer Patients’ Chemotherapy-Related Nausea.

Early Treatment of Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Based Upon Rising CA-125 Levels Does Not Increase Survival.

Body Mass Index (BMI) Should Be Taken Into Account When Assessing A Cancer Patient’s Vitamin D Status.

Extreme Drug Resistance (EDR) Assay Results Do Not Independently Predict Or Alter The Outcomes of Patients With Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Who Are Treated With Optimal Cytoreductive Surgery Followed By Platinum & Taxane Combination Chemotherapy in Either a Primary or Recurrent Setting.

Systematic Review Of Past Study Results For Use of Cytoreductive Surgery Combined With Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Preliminary Results From Phase II Study of Oxaliplatin+Docetaxel+Bevacizumab As First Line Treatment of Advanced Ovarian Cancer Show 62% Overall Response Rate & 70% One-Year Progression Free Survival.

Combined Weekly Docetaxel + Gemcitabine In Relapsed Ovarian Cancer & Peritoneal Cancer Produces 59% Overall Response Rate.

A Phase II Trial of Irinotecan & Oral Etoposide Chemotherapy in Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Patients Produces 47% Overall Response Rate & 81% Clinical Benefit Rate.

Weekly Bevacizumab & Pegylated Liposomal Doxorubicin Produce 55% Clinical Benefit Rate In Progressing/Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Patients.

Phase II Study of Belotecan (CKD-602)+ Carboplatin Demonstrates 53% Overall Response Rate in Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Patients.

Single Agent Voreloxin Produces 11% Overall Response Rate & 52% Disease Control Rate in Phase II Study Involving Women with Platinum-Resistant Ovarian Cancer.

A Phase II Study of Patupilone In Patients With Platinum Refractory/Resistant Ovarian, Primary Fallopian, or Peritoneal Cancer Produces 48% Clinical Benefit Rate.

Trabectedin (Yondelis®) + Pegylated Liposomal Doxorubicin (PLD) Produces Better Response Than PLD Alone.

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Finds Anti-VEGF Therapy Is Highly Effective In Patients With Ovarian Granulosa Cell Tumors.

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Finds That Increased Angiogenesis Is A Significant Predictor Of Poor Clinical Outcome In Patients With Sex-Cord Stromal Tumors; Suggests Anti-Angiogenesis Therapy is Warranted For This Subtype of Ovarian Cancer.

ZYBRESTAT™ (Combretastatin A-4 phosphate) Produces 32% Confirmed Partial Response Rate (RR) in Evaluable Patients With Platinum Resistant Ovarian Cancer (25% RR if total enrolled patients used as denominator).

ASSIST-5 Trial of TELCYTA® + Pegylated Liposomal Doxorubicin Produces 12% Response Rate (With One Complete Response) in Patients With Platinum Refractory and Resistant Ovarian Cancer.

Two Studies Provide Contradictory Data for Use of Carboplatin + Pegylated Liposomal Doxorubicin in Ovarian Cancer

OGX-427 Treatment Demonstrates Safety, Evidence of Declines in Circulating Tumor Cells and Reductions in Tumor Markers in a Phase I Cancer Trial, Including 60% Response Rate (Based Upon Declining CA125) For Ovarian Cancer Patients.

Maintenance BIBF 1120 Could Delay Disease Progression in Recurrent Ovarian Cancer.

Oral PARP Inhibitor Olaparib (AZD2281) Effective Against BRCA-Deficient Advanced Ovarian Cancer.

Carfilzomib (PX-171-007) Produces Stable Disease For 4+ Months In One Ovarian Cancer Patient Who Failed Under Four Previous Treatment Lines – Phase II Solid Tumor Trial.

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Cancer.Net provides timely, oncologist-approved information to help patients and families make informed health-care decisions. All content is subject to a formal peer-review process by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, composed of more than 150 medical, surgical, radiation, and pediatric oncologists, oncology nurses, social workers, and patient advocates. In addition, ASCO editorial staff reviews the content for easy readability. Cancer.Net content is reviewed on an annual basis or as needed.

To view Cancer.Net ovarian cancer information, click here.

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Endocyte Begins Phase II Clinical Trial of EC145 for Treatment of Women with Platinum Resistant Ovarian Cancer

Endocyte Inc. has announced the initiation of a randomized Phase II clinical study of the company’s investigational drug EC145 in women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. The phase II trial, also called the “PRECEDENT study,” will evaluate the efficacy and safety of EC145 when administered in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD). …The PRECEDENT study will enroll 122 subjects and involve more than 50 clinical centers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. … EC145 links a very potent anticancer drug to the vitamin folate, which is required for cell division. Rapidly dividing cancer cells over-express folate receptors to capture enough folate to support cell division. By combining a chemotherapy drug with folate, EC145 targets cancer cells while avoiding normal cells. This targeted approach is designed to provide treatment with more potent drugs with lower toxicity.”

″WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. – February 19, 2009 – Endocyte Inc. has announced the initiation of a randomized Phase II clinical study of the company’s investigational drug EC145 in women with platinumresistant ovarian cancer. The phase II trial, also called the “PRECEDENT study,” will evaluate the efficacy and safety of EC145 when administered in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD).  PLD is widely used as a standard therapy for women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. The efficacy and safety of the combination of EC145/PLD  will be compared to treatment with PLD without EC145. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women in the United States and the leading cause of death due to cancer of the female reproductive system. The PRECEDENT study will enroll 122 subjects and involve more than 50 clinical centers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Trial details can be found at www.endocyte.com and http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.  EC145 links a very potent anticancer drug to the vitamin folate, which is required for cell division. Rapidly dividing cancer cells over-express folate receptors to capture enough folate to support cell division. By combining a chemotherapy drug with folate, EC145 targets cancer cells while avoiding normal cells. This targeted approach is designed to provide treatment with more potent drugs with lower toxicity.

  Advanced Ovarian Cancer - Imaging folate-receptors cancer cells using EC20 (folate-Tc99m). Source:  Endocyte

Advanced Ovarian Cancer - Imaging folate-receptors cancer cells using EC20 (folate-Tc99m). Source: Endocyte

In addition to EC145, patients in the PRECEDENT trial will also be treated with a new molecular imaging agent called EC20 developed by Endocyte. By targeting folate receptors, EC20 imaging agent allows clinicians to identify tumors that overexpress the folate receptor. Using EC20, doctors may be able to identify, in advance, those patients who will benefit from EC145 therapy. According to Dr. Wendel Naumann of the Blumenthal Cancer Center, Carolinas Medical Center and principal investigator for the PRECEDENT study, ‘Patients with advanced, platinum resistant, ovarian cancer are in need of therapy that does not result in significant toxicity. The earlier clinical studies of EC145 were encouraging because they indicated that clinicians could use EC20 to identify women whose tumors expressed the molecular target of EC145. Therapy with EC145 might benefit these patients without causing significant additional toxicity.’ ‘The start of the PRECEDENT study is another important validation of Endocyte’s promising DGS [Drug Guidance System] technology platform,” said Dr. Richard Messmann, Endocyte’s vice president for medical affairs. ‘This also represents an important milestone in Endocyte’s efforts to develop a range of new drugs and predictive medicine tools to treat cancer and other serious diseases in the years ahead. ‘

About Endocyte
Endocyte is a privately-held biotechnology company with headquarters in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, IN. Based on the applications of Endocyte’s advanced proprietary Drug Guidance System (DGS), the Company is working to develop new drugs and diagnostic agents to treat many types of cancer and other serious diseases. The DGS platform makes it possible to use highly-potent drugs on extended and frequent dosing schedules and in combination with other drugs to maximize efficacy. The technology improves drug targeting and reduces the risk of side effects by combining drugs with ligands that are able to identify and attach to receptors found on tumor and other disease cells. Endocyte is currently conducting three separate Phase 2 clinical trials for its lead compound, EC145, together with EC20, a companion molecular imaging agent, for the treatment of ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Other clinical-stage products in the Endocyte pipeline include: EC0225, a combination of two potent anticancer drugs; BMS493, a potent drug being developed in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb; EC17, a targeted immunotherapy agent; and EC0489, a targeted cancer drug. The Company also has multiple product candidates in pre-clinical stage development.  This press release contains “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and involve significant risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forwardlooking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Contacts:
Vickey Buskirk, media relations, Endocyte Inc., (765) 463-7175 ext. 1117, vbuskirk@endocyte.com”

Quoted Source: ENDOCYTE BEGINS PHASE II CLINICAL TRIAL OF EC145 FOR TREATMENT OF WOMEN WITH OVARIAN CANCER, News Release, February 19, 2009 (PDF Document).

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