Oncology Venture has enrolled the first patient into a Phase 1/2 trial of its compound APO010 in multiple myeloma. Patients in the study will be pre-screened using a drug response predictor tool, which indicates they are likely to respond to the treatment.
This companion diagnostic, which the company calls APO010 DRP, was developed by the Medical Prognosis Institute. Oncology Venture is a spinoff from the institute.
APO010 belongs to a class of compounds called FAS-ligands, which have anticancer properties. It interacts with the immune system to trigger death of cancer cells, and researchers believe it will be possible to use it in combination with cancer checkpoint immunotherapy drugs such as Yervoy (ipilimumab) or drugs blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 immune molecules.
So far, the drug has undergone a Phase 1 trial (NCT00437736) in patients with solid tumors. The study, which enrolled 25 participants, was designed to find a suitable dose of the drug. It found the treatment to be well-tolerated.
According to the Medical Prognosis Institute, the APO010 DRP diagnostic screening of multiple myeloma patients is ongoing, and more than 50 patients have agreed to have their tumor tissue analyzed. The company plans to screen a total of 150 patients to identify those most likely to benefit from APO010 treatment.
“I’m excited that APO010 is now in clinical use in multiple myeloma,” Peter Buhl Jensen, MD, the CEO of Oncology Venture, said in a press release. “This the second shot on goal to have our DRP technology prospectively validated in a clinical trial. APO010 is in addition to being an immunotherapeutic with checkpoint inhibition properties – a potent killer of tumor cells by itself.”
Oncology Venture develops cancer drugs using a precision medicine approach. They do so by using compounds that have been shown effective in treating various cancers, but have not been deemed effective enough for future development.
The company makes use of the fact that cancer is often driven by factors that differ widely between individuals. Linking drugs to specific mechanisms at work, using the DRP screening, they can develop drugs for certain subsets of patients.
Oncology Venture acquired the licence to APO010 from Onxeo (previously TopoTarget) in 2012.