Steve Jobs, one of the greatest visionaries of our time, once said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Founded in 2010, DelMar Pharmaceuticals applies this philosophy to cancer drug discovery and development. Prior research sponsored by the United States National Cancer Institutes (NCI) provides the historical dots and DelMar uses modern biological science to connect them. DelMar is currently conducting clinical trials with its lead drug candidate, VAL-083 (dianhydrogalactitol), as a new treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and deadly form of brain cancer.
Dr. Dennis Brown, DelMar cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer, is a Ph.D. with more than 30 years of experience in cancer drug discovery and development. As part of the original NCI effort over 20 years ago, Dr. Brown had the insight to know that there might be promising drug candidates ‘on the shelf’ whose value might have been overlooked.
Dr. Brown went back to the archives to mine old data looking for opportunities that had already demonstrated activity against cancer in prior human clinical trials. In the late 1990s he started a company called Chemgenex which employed modern genomic tools to dig deep into the mechanism of drugs that were already known to work.
Conceptually: The drug hasn’t changed; the tumor hasn’t changed; what has changed is scientists’ knowledge about biology of the tumor and the new tools that they have to explore genes and biological pathways. This new-found clarity can point a drug that is known to work in a broad sense precisely toward the type of patient whose tumor will benefit most today.
The Chemgenex drug, which was approved by the FDA in 2012 and now marketed by Teva Pharmaceuticals as Synribo®, used this approach to target a small niche in the leukemia market. When Chemgenex was acquired by Cephalon (who was subsequently acquired by Teva), the core scientific team stayed together and reformed as DelMar Pharmaceuticals around the next interesting drug on Dr. Brown’s hit-list.
At the top of this list was DelMar’s lead product candidate, VAL-083, which demonstrated clinical activity in prior NCI-sponsored clinical trials against a range of tumor types including solid tumors such as ovarian and lung cancer, brain cancer and hematologic malignancies.
“By using modern science to connect the historical dots of clinical, toxicology and pharmacology data from the NCIs research we reduce the time, cost, and risk associated with drug development, said Jeffrey Bacha, DelMar’s co-founder, Chairman & CEO. “This also allows us to accelerate the advancement of new cancer therapies targeted toward specific cancer sub-types that are underserved by modern treatments.”
Mr. Bacha, whose background is biophysics, started his biotech career in a research laboratory in the late 1990s. After seeking an MBA he joined KPMG Health Ventures where he served as a consultant to young biotech companies, some of whom have gone on to become today’s billion dollar biotech behemoths.
DelMar’s first target market, GBM, represents one of the cancers that has not benefited from today’s modern therapies. One reason is that GBM is a cancer of the brain; therefore, it is difficult to reach with most drugs due to something called the blood-brain-barrier.
VAL-083 was known to cross the blood-brain-barrier back in the era of Dr. Brown’s original NCI-sponsored research. It also demonstrated activity against GBM in NCI-sponsored clinical trials of the era. However, other drugs with newer patents looked similar and VAL-083 was cast aside in favor of another drug candidate that went on to form the basis of today’s standard-of-care treatment in GBM.
GBM is a highly invasive and aggressive tumor that affects about 15,000 persons per year in the United States. The median survival from diagnosis is about 15 months – unfortunately, a figure that hasn’t changed in decades.
The current standard-of-care is effective in only about 1/3 of patients. “We now understand the basic biology of the tumor that causes resistance to these treatments,” said Bacha. “The main culprit is a naturally occurring DNA repair enzyme called “MGMT”. Simply, MGMT causes resistance to the chemotherapies currently available to fight GBM.”
That’s where DelMar’s team of researchers employs their expertise. DelMar first demonstrated that that the way that VAL-083 targets cancer is different than the standard-of-care and that VAL-038 avoids the MGMT repair and resistance paradigm. Based on these discoveries, DelMar initiated new GBM clinical trials targeting patients who are resistant to currently available chemotherapies.
DelMar recently presented interim data from its clinical trials that suggest the potential to significantly improve the survival of GBM patients who have already failed all other available therapies. The next step is to bring the drug to newly-diagnosed GBM patients as an alternative to the standard-of-care where it can offer the most benefit.
DelMar has taken VAL-083, a previously promising but ignored drug candidate, and used modern science to refine that promise into a potential new treatment for the majority of patients for whom current GBM treatments offer little or no benefit.
In addition, DelMar’s research also suggests that VAL-083’s unique mechanism may also provide opportunities in hard-to-treat subsets of lung cancer and ovarian cancer.
It’s simple: Take a drug that you know works and use modern science to point it where it is needed most.
For more information, please visit www.delmarpharma.com or follow the company on
The company paid consideration to SNN or its affiliates for this article.
© 2017 Stock News Now
Supported by Superior Web Solutions