22 March 2021

A phase I clinical trial has begun into a treatment that could prevent drug resistance in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and other cancers.

EP0042 is a dual inhibitor of cancer-driving proteins from the Aurora and FLT3 families and has shown particular promise as a potential treatment for AML patients, researchers say. It could also target FLT3-mutated cancers that become resistant to existing FLT3-selective inhibitor drugs, and eventually other cancers such as neuroblastoma.

The phase 1 trial of EP0042 is part of a long-running programme of Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)-led drug discovery and development research in collaboration with drug development company Ellipses Pharma.

The trial is being led from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, with study centres planned in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia. Global co-ordinating investigator Dr David Taussig, consultant haematologist at The Royal Marsden and honorary team leader in acute leukaemia at the ICR, said: “It’s incredibly challenging to develop drugs for acute myeloid leukaemia as the disease is often aggressive and prone to resistance, so survival rates are currently poor for many patients.

“I’m excited by the potential of EP0042 and, as new treatments are urgently needed for people with this diagnosis, I really hope to see a positive impact on patient outcomes following this phase I trial.

“EP0042 is a great example of the highly collaborative ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach of The Royal Marsden and ICR, with researchers working closely with clinicians to pioneer new and increasingly personalised treatments in order to improve and save the lives of cancer patients throughout the UK and beyond. We are also hugely encouraged by the involvement and support of Ellipses in the development of this drug.”

Professor Paul Workman, chief executive at the ICR, added: “This new drug is an excellent example of how the ICR is working to discover new treatments that overcome the ability of cancers to adapt, evolve and become resistant to treatment.

“Cancer evolution by Darwinian natural selection is the greatest challenge we face in the treatment of cancer – indeed, it is one of the greatest challenges in modern medicine – and will be the focus of our research at our new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, which will further enhance our work to create a new generation of resistance-busting treatments to benefit cancer patients.”

Source: Institute of Cancer Research



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