Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) today announced they will begin a phase I clinical trial of an anti-cancer drug from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
GSK's 1070916A, an aurora kinase inhibitor*, is the third drug to enter Cancer Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) programme, but the first that is ready to be used in patients.
Cancer Research UK will sponsor the phase I trial, at the Institute of Oncology at St James's University Hospital in Leeds and Barts and The London's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in London. The trial will be managed by the charity's highly experienced drug development office and will start within the next year.
The phase I trial will be carried out on around 30 to 40 patients with advanced solid tumours who have had all the treatments currently available. Cancer Research UK will have the opportunity to carry out a further phase II trial if the trial is successful.
Dr Victoria John, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK, said: "We're delighted to be working with GSK on this promising new molecule under our CDP initiative.
"This deal brings our CDP portfolio to three and the total number of new drugs in our early preclinical and clinical pipeline to over 40, something we believe is testament to the specialist skills and capability of our drug development team."
CDP offers companies an alternative model to traditional out licensing, which enables them to retain rights to the compound throughout the development programme. The programme launched in 2006 to increase the number of new treatments for cancer patients by taking deprioritised anti-cancer agents from industry and putting them into clinical trials.
Under the terms of the partnership deal with GSK, Cancer Research UK will fund the study through early clinical development. GSK will have an option to further develop and commercialise the molecule in exchange for future payments to Cancer Research UK. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
If GSK elects not to take the programme forward, the rights to the molecule will be given to CRT to secure an alternative partner.
Dr Keith Blundy, chief executive of CRT, said: "Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have always had to prioritise which agents they take into clinical development, but even more so in the current economic climate.
"This deal with GSK demonstrates how Cancer Research UK and CRT can work with industry to speed up the development of anti-cancer drugs that might otherwise remain on companies' shelves."
Professor Chris Twelves, head of Cancer Research UK's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at the University of Leeds and St James's Institute of Oncology, who will lead the phase I study, said: "This exciting arrangement between Cancer Research UK and GlaxoSmithKline is good news for patients. It opens up a new avenue of drug development, allowing us to investigate a compound that is almost ready for the clinic but otherwise wouldn't be tested in patients. We look forward to beginning the trial as soon as possible."
*The Aurora kinases are a group of natural enzymes which play a key role in controlling cellular division. Cancers occur when cells divide uncontrollably. It is hoped that by inhibiting the Aurora kinase enzymes, it will be possible to disrupt cellular division and therefore prevent or restrict tumour growth. There are three distinct classes of Aurora kinase, namely A, B and C, although only types A and B have been implicated with cancer to date. The Aurora kinases are thought to represent promising targets in the fight against cancer.