An article appeared in the AFR this week.
‘Billion-dollar molecule’ may extend life in men with prostate cancer – Australian Financial Review, May 9 2018
It concerns a clinical trial being conducted in Australia of a promising experimental form of therapy for late-stage prostate cancer.
I have been asked where our efforts with NOX66 in late-stage cancer fit in with this therapeutic approach. The answer is, NOX66 is very much part of this approach.
The experimental drug is called 177lutetium-PSMA-617 (Lu-PSMA). It has been licensed to US biotech company, Endocyte Inc. I encourage people to go to that company’s website (www.endocyte.com) and check out the video that explains what this drug does.
The first thing to say about Lu-PSMA is that it is not a cure. At best it is going to give men with late-stage prostate cancer some extra time and hopefully that extra time without pain.
The second thing is that not everyone responds to the drug. About 80-85% of cases of prostate cancer are the type where it can be used, but of these, only something in the order of 50% of men show a meaningful response to therapy (a fall in their PSA levels of at least 50%).
St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, along with the Peter MacCallum Hospital in Melbourne and private provider, Theranostics Australia, have pioneered the use of this drug in Australia. My guess is that between 100-150 men have received the drug in Australia over the past 2-3 years. Worldwide, it appears to be around 700 men, most of them in Germany. My discussions with the major players in this field indicate that this is about to expand considerably, particularly given the paucity of effective therapies for late-stage prostate cancer.
Endocyte currently has a Phase 3 clinical study underway, and my expectation is that the drug will be approved and available in 3-4 years. In the meantime, it remains an experimental drug that is available only through clinical studies or on compassionate use.
We are working with St Vincent’s Hospital, using drug supplied by Endocyte. The St Vincent’s study is looking to see whether NOX66 will boost the anti-cancer effect of Lu-PSMA by:
- having more men respond
- achieving a response quicker
- achieving a greater depth of response
- making the response last longer.
That study (known as the LUPIN Study) is an investigator-initiated study, meaning that it has been initiated by the hospital. It involves treating 16 men for up to 6 months with a combination of Lu-PSMA and NOX66. The study is well advanced, with the St Vincent’s investigators presenting their initial data at the ASCO Conference in Chicago in early June.