Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and spin-off company APIM Therapeutics have developed a cancer drug called ATX-101 that targets only cancer cells, and is effective against many different types of cancer.
The drug works by destroying cancer cells' ability to handle stress so that they die, while healthy cells remain unharmed.
The basic research was conducted at NTNU, where Professor Marit Otterlei led the team in developing the medicine. After 18 years of research, and at a cost of more than EUR 20 million, the drug has been tested on 20 terminally ill cancer patients in Australia, with very promising results.
Seventy percent of patients were stable after six weeks, and 12 continued the medication for 18 weeks, while one woman took the medication for 17 months, and was stable for over two years. The trial was mainly to determine whether the drug was toxic, and it was not.
The next stage, Phase 2, will establish the effectiveness of the drug. The clinical trials will take place in the USA on patients with sarcoma, and in Australia on ovarian cancer patients.
“A lot of medicines might work but don’t make it through the development process. The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t take on any projects they can’t profit from. What we develop has to work slightly better than current treatments, and preferably be cheaper to produce and have fewer side effects. Only then can an expensive development run pay off. It’s been a long run, and there’s still a long way to go,” says Otterlei.
Article: ATX-101, a cell-penetrating protein targeting PCNA, can be safely administered as intravenous infusion in patients and shows clinical activity in a Phase 1 study