Noxopharm is an Australian drug development company with offices in Sydney and Hong Kong. The Company has a primary focus on the development of drugs to make radiotherapy more effective. Radiotherapy is regarded generally as potentially the most effective form of cancer therapy across the broad spectrum of cancer types, but that potential rarely is fully achieved due to its indiscriminate toxic effects. Noxopharm aims to bring to market a pipeline of products based on a single technology platform designed to enhance the killing effect of radiotherapy on cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells.
NOX66 is the first pipeline product, with later generation drug candidates under development in an R&D program and expected to enter the clinic in early-2019.
We envisage a family of products that will become standard adjunctive therapies wherever any form of radiotherapy is used. The aim is to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy:
- allowing the dosage of radiotherapy to be lowered to a level enabling radiotherapy to be used in patients where the use of radiotherapy currently is not considered for safety reasons
- producing greater killing of cancer cells in tumours directly exposed to radiotherapy
- producing killing of cancer cells in tumours not exposed to radiotherapy (abscopal response).
NOX66 is an innovative dosage formulation of the generic anti-cancer agent, idronoxil. Idronoxil specifically targets cancer cells, rendering them less able to survive radiotherapy.
Radiation seeks to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA beyond any ability of the cancer cell to repair the damage. All cells have a well-developed mechanism to repair DNA damage that goes on working for about a week following the radiation. The equation is simple: if the cell is successful in repairing the damage, then it survives; if unsuccessful, then it dies.
A number of drugs have been developed seeking to block that repair mechanism, meaning more cancer cells dying after radiotherapy. No such drugs have been successful to date because they do not discriminate between repair mechanisms in cancer cells and in healthy cells. Non-discrimination means that such drugs also increase the toxic side-effects of radiotherapy, thus countering any benefit from their use.
Idronoxil is different because it only blocks repair mechanisms in cancer cells…healthy cells are unaffected. But in order to block the repair mechanism, idronoxil needs to be present on a continuous basis. When it is not present, the repair process is allowed to continue unabated. That means that idronoxil, to be fully effective, needs to be present for 24 hours a day for at least a week following the radiotherapy.
Previous attempts to use idronoxil in cancer patients led to it being quickly eliminated from the body after about 1 hour. That meant that there were long periods each day when repair activity was able to continue unchecked. In those circumstances, idronoxil was unable to deliver a meaningful anti-cancer effect.
That problem has been overcome with NOX66. NOX66 is a proprietary formulation that has been developed specifically to keep idronoxil in the body in an active form for long periods of time. A single suppository dosing is intended to provide an effective level of idronoxil in the body for up to 24 hours. NOX66 provides the means for idronoxil to exert a continuous anti-cancer effect for as many days as it is administered.
The clinical pipeline
NOX66 is the Company’s primary pipeline product.
Products expected to join that pipeline in 2018 are:
- An intravenous dosage form of idronoxil
- A pessary dosage form of idronoxil.
In each case designed to deliver idronoxil in a form that achieves an extended half-life of the drug in the body.