Phase II Trials for New Mesothelioma Drug To Begin In Australia

Sydney, Australia—A pharmaceutical company in Sydney has announced its plans to continue research into an anti-cancer compound, specifically with regard to treatment of mesothelioma.

Following a successful Phase I trial of the compound, named BCN105, in advanced-cancer patients at several hospitals in Australia, Bionomics will now conduct two different Phase II trials. One will be conducted in the United States on renal cancer patients, while the compound’s effectiveness in combating mesothelioma will be tested on 60 patients in Australia.

Bionomics’ chief executive, Dr. Deborath Rathjen, said that BCN106 is unlike other cancer drugs, because it has a twofold mechanism which not only targets the center of tumors, but also attacks the cancer cells directly.

“We don’t believe that cancers will become resistant to 105, using the same mechanisms that they become resistant to other chemotherapies,” said Rathjen. She added that the company intended to position the drug as helpful in “niche” applications, or as treatment for relatively rare cancers like mesothelioma and renal cancer, in order to get it to market more quickly. The drug, however, also has the potential to be effective when used for other types of cancer.

The researchers hope to report interim results of the clinical trial in early 2011.

Mesothelioma, which is diagnosed in 600 new Australian patients, and up to 3,000 new American patients, each year, is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It targets a thin membrane which lines the body’s cavities and covers its internal organs, protecting them by producing a special lubricating fluid. The tumors associated with mesothelioma are generally diffuse and difficult to both surgically resect and treat with traditional chemotherapies. Considered incurable, mesothelioma has a very short life expectancy, with fewer than 10 percent of patients living past the two-year mark.

Rathjen said that after the completion of the clinical trials, Bionomics would pursue licensing of the compound. If BNC106 is successfully developed and brought to market, sales could surpass $1 billion USD.