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Trial of new drug which blocks the energy supply to cancer cells


An experimental drug which may treat a range of cancers is being tested in a new clinical trial at Newcastle University.

Approximately 63 cancer patients will take part in the first clinical trial of the compound to see if it is safe and can benefit them. These will be patients refered to the trial by their medical team.

Leading the trial is Professor Ruth Plummer, Cancer Research UK clinician at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University who is also a consultant within Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She said: “I’m excited to open this trial of a completely new type of cancer treatment which continues our drive for the most effective new treatments to give patients the best chance of surviving this dreadful disease.

“It’s heartbreaking for cancer patients when the drugs have stopped working and they have run out of options. But we hope new drugs will be able to save their lives in the future.”

Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office (DDO) has launched the trial of the drug called AZD-3965, developed by AstraZeneca. The trial will be undertaken by Cancer Research UK’s and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre based at The Northern Institute of Cancer Research at Newcastle University as well as at least one other clinical centre.

AZD-3965 targets monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) which is essential in cell metabolism. Blocking this transporter limits cancer cells’ ability to generate energy, and decreases their capacity to survive.

Cancer Research UK’s DDO have collaborated closely with the trial clinical centres to plan, design and gain regulatory and ethical approval for this exciting first in class, first in man study.  The DDO are sponsoring, funding and managing the trial whilst AstraZeneca is providing the drug.

Susan Galbraith, head of the oncology innovative medicines unit at AstraZeneca, said: “Targeting tumour cell metabolism represents a novel and exciting approach to potentially treat cancer. AstraZeneca is delighted to be working with Cancer Research UK to investigate the utility of AZD3965 which is aimed to address the needs of cancer sufferers.”

The drug has been developed through Cancer Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) scheme which is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK’s DDO and Cancer Research Technology. Its aim is to progress promising anti-cancer agents which pharmaceutical companies do not have the resources to progress, through early phase clinical trials. This is the fifth drug from the scheme to enter clinical trials.

Dr Nigel Blackburn, director of drug development at the DDO, said: “We’re delighted to open this clinical trial of such a promising new drug which cuts off the energy supply to tumour cells and kills them.

“This is the fifth drug from our CDP programme to reach clinical trials – without the scheme it simply might not have been possible to provide this drug to patients. We’ll continue to build on these successes to accelerate the development of further treatments though new trials of drugs which otherwise may not have reached patients for many years.”

Adapted from CRUK press release.

published on: 31 May 2013