Amplia Therapeutics takes Australian cancer discovery into trials

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Melbourne-based ASX-listed biotechnology company Amplia Therapeutics (ASX:ATX) will develop a potential new pancreatic cancer therapy discovered by scientists at the Cancer Therapeutics CRC.

The therapeutic, known as AMP945, has entered its first clinical trial. It has been developed by the Cancer Therapeutics CRC, involving scientists from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and CSIRO.

According to Lisa Dube, acting CEO of Cancer Therapeutics CRC, “We are very excited that this is the first Cancer Therapeutics CRC drug to enter into human trials, especially as it was created in Melbourne and will move to clinical trials in Melbourne. This is a wonderful outcome for the local drug discovery community and is testament to the high quality of researchers within our network.”

The trial of AMP945 will test for safety in 64 healthy volunteers. Data from the trial is due in the first half of 2021 and is expected to support phase two clinical trials in patients with hard to treat cancers and fibrotic diseases, including pancreatic cancer and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis..

Dr John Lambert, CEO of Amplia Therapeutics, said, Pharma companies work for years to find new drugs for unmet medical needs and the team at the Cancer Therapeutics CRC deserve enormous credit for their discovery of AMP945. Amplia’s role is now to steer AMP945 through the stages of clinical development and we are delighted to start this journey here in Australia. This is the next big step on the path that we hope will one day see AMP945 approved for use by the patients who need it.”

AMP945 targets a protein called Focal Adhesion Kinase, or FAK, that controls the formation of fibrotic tissue in the body. Fibrosis is important for providing both structural integrity to many organs in the body and in healing after injury. However, when fibrosis is uncontrolled, it can result in a build-up of stiff scar tissue that can prevent organs in the body from functioning properly, causing disease. Many cancers also form a fibrotic tissue shield in order to protect them from the immune system. This can also hinder the drug’s ability to treat the cancer. AMP945 has been shown, in preclinical testing, to act on FAK potentially enabling it to both treat and prevent fibrotic diseases, as well as make cancers that were previously resistant to treatment responsive to drugs.