Iceni Pharmaceuticals, formerly known as Big DNA Ltd., announced plans to soon begin testing its lead product Cilcane (cilengitide) as a first-in-class treatment for multiple myeloma (MM). The company, working with Merck Serono, was previously evaluating cilengitide in late-stage clinical trials as a potential treatment for glioblastoma, a brain cancer.
Cilengitide is a pentapeptide drug with a well-studied, promising safety profile and a novel mechanism of action when compared to existing treatments, Iceni said in a press release. Research suggests it might be synergistic with a proteasome inhibitor, a class of drug commonly given to MM patients as a frontline treatment. This approach might also be applicable to breast and other cancers.
The drug has been tested in more than 30 clinical trials, including a Phase 3 study at Merck Serono for the treatment of glioblastoma. In 2017, Iceni plans to start a Phase 2 safety and efficacy study in relapsed/refractory MM patients who have previously been treated with a proteasome inhibitor.
Iceni also announced that members of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) include:
- Dr. Horst Kessler, from Munich Technical University, a named inventor of cilengitide
- Gareth Morgan, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRCPath, a professor of Medicine and Pathology and director of the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)
- Bruno Osterwalder, a former senior vice president of Oncology at Merck Serono
- Annalisa Jenkins, who previously served as head of Global Research & Development at Merck Serono during the time that cilengitide was being developed
“We are excited by the prospect of repurposing cilengitide as a novel combination therapy for the treatment of multiple myeloma and building on its established safety profile to improve the clinical outcome and quality of life of patients,” Dr. John March, chief executive officer of Iceni Pharmaceuticals, said in a press release. “Our prestigious team of world-renowned scientific advisors are testament to the belief in the product and its potential.”
The company said its strategy remains that of building on the expertise in biologics and DNA vaccine development achieved at Big DNA.