Combating cancer across the pond

Lorus, Cancer Research UK partner to advance solid tumor therapy to clinic

Kelsey Kaustinen
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LONDON—Lorus Therapeutics Inc.,Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office and Cancer ResearchTechnology, the charity's commercial arm, have announced apartnership to take a new solid tumors therapy into its firstclinical trial.

Under the agreement, Cancer Research UKwill handle the preclinical work necessary for regulatory submission.Lorus will manufacture the material for the process, and will have anexclusive option to license the Phase I clinical data and take overfurther clinical development. If the option is not exercised, therights to the background intellectual property will go to CancerResearch Technology to secure another commercial partner. A revenueshare would go to Lorus from any revenues made by Cancer ResearchTechnology. Specific financial details were not released.

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

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

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

The partnership is one of many inCancer Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP), ajoint initiative between Cancer Research UK's Drug DevelopmentOffice and Cancer Research Technology. The initiative works withpromising anticancer agents, ones that might not be developedotherwise, and moves them through preclinical development and earlyclinical trials.

Cancer Research UK's CDP initiativecurrently has a number of projects underway, at various stages ofdevelopment, with both pharma and biotech partners, says Dr. VictoriaJohn, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK's DrugDevelopment Office. The partnership with Lorus represents the firsttime the organizations have worked together, but John notes that theorganizations share an objective.

"Lorus has the same objective as thecharity—to ensure new treatments are being made available to cancerpatients—but was unable to resource this program fully themselvesand sought CDP as a route to develop it," she explains. "Inaddition, for potential patient benefit, there was a strongpreclinical rationale and high scientific interest for taking thisinto cancer."

"IL-17E is the third biologicaltreatment we have brought into the CDP portfolio, building on ourexisting partnerships with international pharmaceutical andbiotechnology companies to develop a multipeptide vaccine, amonoclonal antibody as well as five other molecularly targeteddrugs," said John in a press release. "This latest partnershipfurther demonstrates the breadth of molecules we can develop. And wewill continue to seek future partnerships, so that by workingalongside industry to combine skills and expertise, we can reach ourgoal to license new treatments and save more lives from cancer."


Kelsey Kaustinen

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