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The Australian phase 1 clinical trial of the drug Cantrixil for recurrent ovarian cancer could shape the next wave of clinical research into drugs targeting cancer stem cells, a peer-reviewed paper published in Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs this month has found.
Cantrixil (TRX-E-002-1) is being developed by the Australian biotech Kazia Therapeutics, and has been granted Orphan Drug Designation by the USA Food and Drug Administration in recognition of the high unmet patient need for more effective treatments for ovarian cancer.
A phase 1 trial of Cantrixil is underway across three Australian leading oncology centres (Icon Cancer Care in South Brisbane, Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia, and Westmead Hospital in Sydney) and leading US hospitals Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Centre, and Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centre, to determine the drug’s safety profile and further investigate its potential for anti-cancer stem cell activity in the clinic.
The paper ‘The role of cancer stem cells and the therapeutic potential of TRX-E-002-1 in ovarian cancer’ examines the current treatment landscape for ovarian cancer and the role of cancer stem cells in chemo-resistant, recurring ovarian cancer, concluding that the Cantrixil trial could help to inform not only the potential of the drug but the design of future trials of drugs targeting cancer stem cells.
Kazia’s Cantrixil Clinical Program Director, Daniel Berg, explained:
“The majority - approximately 75 percent - of late stage epithelial ovarian cancer patients will experience disease recurrence, with many of these relapsing patients becoming resistant to chemotherapy. Pre-clinical and clinical evidence strongly implicates cancer stem cells in driving tumour recurrence and resistance.
“Although researchers are gaining a greater understanding of the role of cancer stem cells in cancer development and recurrence, clinical data is still sparse.
“Cantrixil is a potential compelling treatment for ovarian cancer because preclinical evidence has demonstrated its potential to eliminate both ovarian cancer cells and cancer stem cells thought to be responsible for relapse.
“This Cantrixil trial is one of the few clinical trials to date examining a drug with the ability to target both cancer stem cells and non-cancer stem cells, and it could help develop clinically validated methods and readouts for similar trials in future.”
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women, and the sixth most common cause of cancer death for women in Australia. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that in 2017, 1580 new cases will be diagnosed and 1047 women will die from ovarian cancer.
Recurrent, chemo-resistant ovarian cancer is thought to be due to a subgroup of slow-growing, drug resistant cancer cells with stem-like properties and a high capacity for tumour repair. These are often referred to as tumour-initiating cells or ‘cancer stem cells’.1 Cantrixil is being developed as an IP chemotherapy designed to be used as both first line and recurrent therapies in combination with carboplatin administered intravenously (IV) for epithelial ovarian cancer, which is the most common form of ovarian cancer, comprising 90% of cases2.
More about Cantrixil.
 Cancer Council Australia [online] http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/ovarian-cancer.html [accessed] 17 August 217.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017. Cancer series no.100. Cat. no. CAN 100. Canberra: AIHW